Advocacy Resource | January 22, 2014
Sequestration is a terrible policy that includes significant, indiscriminant cuts to discretionary programs, which include virtually all targeted homelessness and affordable housing programs. Sequestration is resulting in slightly more than 5 percent cuts to nearly all programs within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), as well as programs in other agencies that assist those experiencing homelessness.
• Sequestration of federally-funded homeless assistance and housing programs is severely impacting the provision of safe, decent, and affordable housing and necessary supportive services.
o Protecting low-income programs. In the Budget Control Act, Congress exempted numerous programs from sequestration on the basis that they serve our nation’s lowest-income people. Programs focused on homelessness and affordable housing serve the same purpose but were not exempt.
o Explain how critical these effective programs are to the well-being of the most vulnerable members of our society.
o Share HUD’s estimates that as a result of sequestration, more than 100,000 homeless and formerly homeless people, the majority of whom are members of families, disabled adults, or veterans, will be removed from housing or shelter programs, and that 125,000 individuals and families, more than half of whom are elderly or disabled, will lose assistance provided to them through the Housing Choice Voucher programs. Explain what the consequences of this will look like in your community. Emphasize that cutting funding to programs serving these populations is an inhumane way to balance the budget.
o HUD programs are under-funded. In recent fiscal years, many HUD programs have received cuts or have gone year after year without much-needed increases. Many programs, including the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, were already struggling to simply allow people who already receive this help to keep their housing before sequestration took effect. The need for affordable housing far exceeds what current funding levels can provide, and sequestration is accelerating the growth in the number of households in need. In 2013, sequestration will cut more than $2 billion from HUD-administered programs.
o Explain the devastating impact that sequestration is having on efforts to end homelessness in your community. Share any data you may have on the decrease in numbers of people your programs have been able to serve as the result of sequestration. Also share any relevant anecdotes and difficult budget decisions you have had to make.
o Explain that low-income housing programs have already taken major hits, and that as a result of sequestration Public Housing Agencies across the country have begun “shelving” vouchers: not reissuing them to families on the waiting list when other families leave the program. Provide any local examples you may have. Explain that these cuts are already increasing the strain on the homeless assistance system, and that homeless assistance programs will feel the direct impact of sequestration when the next NOFA comes out in the fall.
• I hope you will work to replace funding from cuts in non-defense, discretionary spending for targeted homeless assistance and affordable housing programs. I hope you will also work with your colleagues on the Appropriations Committee to ensure that significant increases in FY 2014 funding are provided to help make up for recent cuts to these key programs that prevent and end homelessness.