This week, Congress will avoid a disastrous government shutdown with an agreed upon budget compromise that will continue federal funding through the end of September. The spending agreement marks the only meaningful bipartisan piece of legislation passed during the Trump Administration to date.
There are both big and small victories scattered throughout the negotiated budget agreement worth pausing to acknowledge: the agreement will NOT fund a wall on the US-Mexico border, and the National Institutes of Health budget saw a nearly $2 billion increase, which will ultimately save lives.
For HUD, it is welcome news that Congress appropriated enough money to go slightly above the flat funding level of FY 2016, for instance by increasing the number of vouchers for homeless veterans and slightly increasing funding for programs like Choice Neighborhoods.
However, in many areas this budget falls woefully short. For example, Congress failed to provide enough resources to fully renew all Housing Choice Vouchers, once inflation and other costs are factored in. In fact, with the exception of 2013, this budget deal represents the biggest funding shortfall for these renewals in a decade, with estimates suggesting this could lead to a loss of tens of thousands of housing vouchers for vulnerable families.
So let’s be clear: this spending bill is nothing to celebrate.
Housing and community development programs have been chronically underfunded for decades. This in part explains why over 11 million people today spend over half of their income on rent; and only one in four households who qualify for any kind of rental support receives it.
We need to do much better. Congress should not be patting itself on the back for such meager budget increases in the face of an affordable housing crisis that has no parallel in our nation’s history. This is especially true when the same Congress is on the verge of taking away healthcare from millions of families, which will only further strain household budgets.
To all who participated in last week’s National Call-In Day calling for full funding for affordable housing, we thank you. We will keep the pressure on as we head into the budget fight for FY 2018 – stay tuned.
This month, CarsonWatch is launching an affordable housing awareness campaign.
In addition to bringing you the latest coming out of the Trump Administration, we want to share both background and color to the face of affordable housing in America.
Have a story about how the federal funding debate is impacting affordable housing in your neighborhood?
Know about a local affordable housing triumph worth celebrating?