Don’t believe the folks who tell you that Congress doesn’t get anything done. Just a few days after the Senate’s first housing appropriations budget for 2012 was released, we’re hearing from staffers that both sides are ready to consign housing programs for the lowest income people to another year of historic cuts and budget gaps.
What’s more frightening is that the House recommended an allocation for Section 8 (both project and tenant based) that is likely inadequate to fund the current number of vouchers, according to calculations by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. The numbers are higher than 2011, but must go up yearly because of rising utility costs and rents. If turnover is as expected and some cost savings measures are implemented, low income people are still at risk of losing their housing. If HUD can’t renew owners’ rental assistance contracts, the housing could be lost to the affordable stock, or it could throw owners into financial difficulties. All along, we were hearing that preserving Section 8 funding was Congress’s highest priority. If they cross this line, what other promises will they break?
As for HOME, we have been awaiting these cuts for a while, but a cut of 1/4 to 1/3 is devastating to our ability to finance the construction or rehabilitation of affordable housing.
The Senate also gave over $1 billion more to transportation than to housing. Housing and transportation would BOTH create jobs for struggling construction workers. It is unfortunate that federal budgeting is such a zero-sum game that pits industries who should be working together to make healthier communities against each other.
This issue could be decided within the next few weeks! We urge you to write your congresspeople and tell them to preserve HOME, Section 8, and housing funding overall.