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|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.|
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. It includes virtually all targeted homelessness and affordable housing programs. Sequestration will result in slightly more than five percent cuts to nearly all programs within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), as well as programs in other agencies, such as the Department of Health and Human Services, that assist those experiencing homelessness. You can find the final FY 2013 funding levels for a variety of programs (after sequestration’s cuts) here.
HUD estimates that as a result of sequestration, 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. You can find the anticipated impact of sequestration in each state, as well as weekly reports on the impacts sequestration is having on programs in communities across the country, on the Coalition on Human Needs page. You can also find a compilation of stories regarding the local impact of sequestration on Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers and Public Housing Authorities, which sequestration’s cuts have had the most immediate impact on (since they are not funded through yearly grants), here. Cuts to Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers and Public Housing have resulted and will continue to result in increased strain on the homeless assistance system. 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 stand 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.
Sequestration also makes it essential that programs, including the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program, are funded at increased levels in the upcoming fiscal year (FY) 2014 appropriations. For more information on how to get involved to ensure that the McKinney-Vento program is robustly funded in FY 2014, see the FY 2014 McKinney Campaign page.