Last week, the Trump Administration released its proposed $4.4 trillion FY 2019 budget. The budget cuts funding for HUD programs by 18 percent. The underlying message in the proposal is clear: This Administration is not committed to meeting the basic needs of its poorest citizens. The White House and HUD are comfortable dismantling effective programs, despite the devastating consequences for low-income families, disabled and seniors. Despite overwhelming evidence that stable and affordable housing enables seniors and families to become economically mobile, access job opportunities, achieve better health outcomes, and improve school performance, this Administration intends to impose funding cuts on the backs of the neediest.
As anticipated, the budget proposes to slash critical affordable housing and energy assistance programs.The proposed budget would:
- Eliminate the HOME Investment Partnerships program, Community Development Block Grants, and the Public Housing Capital Fund.
- Reduce the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund’s budget by $234 million and eliminate all programs except the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) program and the CDFI Bond Guarantee program.
- Reduce $641 million from the adopted FY2018 Senate bill level for Project Based Section 8.l.
- Eliminate the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
A leaked draft bill attributed to the Administration would allow public housing agencies and owners of properties with project-based rental assistance to impose work requirements without job training and rent increases on millions of low-income families who receive federal housing assistance. The legislation would eliminate income deductions for families with high medical or child care expenses.
The details of how Congress will decide to let funds flow to specific programs over the next two years remain to be seen. Congress has hard choices to make about how to allocate resources among competing priorities. Immigration, natural disasters, the opioid crisis, veterans, and infrastructure improvements all compete with affordable housing and community development programs for non-defense discretionary funds. We are likewise concerned that the Administration’s draconian proposals could serve simply to make lesser cuts by Congress appear more palatable.
Now is not the time to be complacent. We must continue to push for adequate funding for critical housing, community development, and energy assistance resources to meet the needs of low-income families, seniors and communities. We must educate Congress about how Americans benefit from stable and affordable housing, how housing is platform which enables residents to access jobs, health, education, and opportunity. We must point to proven methods of helping people become economically mobile, like the Family Self-Sufficiency program.
In short, we have a lot of work to do. NHT is working to raise the voices of our low-income residents to help Congress and the public understand why affordable housing is so important. Watch this space for stories from the amazing individuals and families living in our affordable homes.
We urge our partners and allies to join this effort by contacting their senator or representative and to push for adequate funding for housing, community development and energy assistance resources to meet the needs of low-income families.