Sequestration

The Budget Control Act of 2011 required two steps to reduce the federal deficit: reduced spending over the following nine fiscal years, and sequestration. Sequestration, the automatic, across-the-board cuts to many defense and non-defense programs, went into effect on March 1, 2013.

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Sequestration, the automatic, across-the-board cuts to nearly all defense and non-defense discretionary programs, went into effect on March 1, 2013 when President Obama issued a sequestration order since Congress was unable to strike an alternative deficit reduction deal.

Sequestration is an atrocious policy that includes significant, indiscriminant cuts to discretionary programs, for which spending is determined each year through the congressional appropriations process. In addition to the automatic cuts that occurred in March 2013, sequestration will lead to lower spending caps on federal spending for the next 7 fiscal years.

Congress reached an agreement on alleviating sequestration (increasing the funding caps) for FY 2014 and FY 2015 (the Bipartisan Budget Act of December 2013) that will allow Congress to allocate more funding to federal programs in the FY 2015 appropriations process. The FY 2014 funding level ($1.012 trillion) was used to finalize the FY 2014 appropriations process in mid-January 2014.

HUD estimates that as a result of the 2013 sequestration cuts, 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. Sequestration will also do substantial harm to homeless assistance programs, as HUD estimates that 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.

Communities have already begun to feel the impact of these cuts, which are reducing the provision of safe, decent, and affordable housing and necessary supportive services. Now that the FY 2013 NOFA, which includes sequestration’s cuts, has been released, Continuums of Care throughout the country are currently making very tough decisions about which programs will be at risk of losing funding.

In order to reverse sequestration’s senseless, harmful cuts, it is critical that policymakers are aware of the harmful impacts they are having on communities. Both data and personal stories are well worth sharing with Members of Congress to spread awareness of sequestration’s impacts on the most vulnerable members of our communities. See these talking points for powerful arguments to make in explaining the harm cuts are having on homelessness and affordable housing programs.

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