Even with extraordinarily low unemployment, across the country far too many people are struggling to keep a roof over their heads. An estimated 7.7 million low-income families nationwide spend more than half of their incomes on rent, live in severely inadequate conditions, or both. In New York City, the affordable housing crisis has fueled record homelessness, with 62,000 New Yorkers sleeping in shelters every night. However, rather than increasing desperately needed resources to combat nationwide housing instability and homelessness, the Federal budget proposal released last week slashes funds for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by an alarming 15 percent.
The proposed cuts, if enacted, would further destabilize low-income families and individuals across the United States and put hundreds of thousands of households at severe risk of homelessness. Those who are already homeless would find it nearly impossible to get back on their feet without adequate housing assistance such as long-term rent subsidies, which are proven to be the most effective intervention in helping people to achieve housing stability, child well-being, and food security. President Trump’s proposed budget disregards both the growing need and the expansive body of research proving the efficacy and fiscal savings derived from housing investments, and instead opts to balance the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable Americans.
As Congress negotiates the budget in the coming months, it is imperative that they hear from constituents who oppose these drastic cuts to vital housing programs. You can take action by sending a message to your members of Congress here.
The New York Times Editorial Board condemned Trump’s harsh budget proposal and urged Federal leaders to instead invest in solutions to the widespread affordable housing crisis:
The people who rely on federal rental assistance are society’s most vulnerable. Two-thirds of them are quite poor, with incomes that do not exceed even 30 percent of median income for their area. Nine-tenths of them are senior citizens, people with disabilities, veterans and working poor people with children who would eventually end up in homeless shelters or on the streets without federal help.
That is precisely what will happen if Congress approves the administration’s proposal for cutting the HUD budget by about 15 percent. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan research organization, estimates that the Trump proposal would result in the elimination of 250,000 rental vouchers.
Half of the households losing rental assistance would probably include the elderly and people with disabilities, but the toll on working families with children would also be high.
These destructive proposals come at a time when the federal housing effort is already so underfunded that three-quarters of the households that qualify for rental assistance based on income do not receive it. This leaves millions of poor families living in substandard or even dangerous housing, or struggling to meet rents that are a huge percentage of their income.
Living under threat of eviction is particularly devastating for young children, who need stability at home to succeed at school. And as Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies reported last year, allowing families to become homeless is economically counterproductive. Simply put, it costs taxpayers significantly less to help families find permanent housing than to take care of them in a shelter system.
The Trump housing proposal deserves to die a swift death. Congress also needs to rouse itself and search for solutions to an affordable housing crisis that has pushed hundreds of thousands of families to the verge of homelessness.