President Barack Obama released his FY14 budget request to Congress yesterday, which includes $1 billion for the National Housing Trust Fund on the mandatory side of the budget and the partial restoration of funding for some HUD programs.
As housing advocates know, the shortage of rental housing affordable to the lowest income Americans is a growing, and ongoing, problem. Our nation needs a federal housing policy that provides the path forward to ending homelessness and ensuring extremely low income people have access to the housing they need. Unfortunately, the past three budget cycles have amounted to a shifting of cuts around different HUD programs.
We cannot achieve our bold vision of ensuring that the lowest income Americans have access to decent, affordable housing if all of our energy as advocates is spent protecting existing programs from constant threat of cut. Meanwhile, 7.1 million low income families are without the affordable rental housing they need.
That is why we support funding the National Housing Trust Fund through revenue from modifications to the mortgage interest deduction. The National Housing Trust Fund is not meant to replace existing federal housing programs, like public housing and Housing Choice Vouchers, it is meant to augment them. The National Housing Trust Fund is the only federal program that would close the gap between the number of extremely low income renter households and the number of rental units affordable and available to them.
Building the housing necessary to end the rental shortage for those 7.1 million renter households may sound like a stretch, until you realize that the federal government has the resources necessary to do this- they just have to be used a smarter way. Our proposal to fund the National Housing Trust Fund uses existing housing resources, through modifications to the mortgage interest deduction, to direct revenue to the middle and lower income people who most need help with their housing costs. It’s a common sense solution to the nation’s greatest housing challenges. We hope you’ll support it.
Sequestration is already having a clear impact on low income renters across the U.S. As Fox 5 DC reported, the DC Housing Authority is already making tough choices to balance the cuts required by sequestration with the agency’s mission to house the lowest income residents of DC. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the housing agency in that city is in the process of cancelling vouchers recently issued to low income families, taking away vouchers from households that had not already found an apartment during the period allowed.
While sequestration will reduce the amount of affordable rental housing made available by the federal government, market conditions are the cause of the majority of the existing housing shortage. Affordable Housing Finance explains that severe housing cost burden- where low income renters pay 50% or more of their income for rent- is a problem in every state in the nation. As Progress Illinois explains, many in that state pay more than half their income for rent, leaving little left for other necessities like food or medical care.
The Washington Examiner takes us back to the nation’s capitol with a video on what the rental housing shortage means for those who are trying to escape homelessness. An article in the Stamford Advocate shows the struggle both low and moderate income households go through when attempting to rent in America’s highest-cost cities.
As housing advocates know, the impacts of sequestration will be felt most deeply by America’s poorest individuals and families. But how big will the cuts be? How will HUD and other agencies handle them? What can advocates like us do to ask Congress to replace sequestration with a more balanced approach to the budget?
NLIHC just created two pages on its website with all the information you need to help you understand sequestration from a housing perspective.
First, we’ve compiled a page on sequestration with links to all the necessary HUD, Obama administration, and Office of Management and Budget information. We also include links to resources from other organizations, like the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. We’ll update this page regularly as agencies post new guidance and other information on sequestration becomes available.
Second, the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding, a coalition of over 70 national organizations staffed by NLIHC, has its own sequestration resources specially created for housing and community development advocates. On our CHCDF sequestration page, you’ll find talking points, a Twitter campaign, and in-depth information about the housing impacts of sequestration.
Sequestration was never supposed to happen; it was a “stick” Members of Congress adopted as a way to force themselves to negotiate a budget deal. The stick didn’t work, and now we’re living with the consequences. It will be crucial for all of us to advocate this month– beginning today– for the damaging impacts of sequestration to be minimal and short-lived. Take a look at our sequestration resources, join our National Call-In Day today, and encourage your colleagues and friends to join you in this fight for a more balanced approach to the federal budget.
Last week, NLIHC released Housing Spotlight: America’s Affordable Housing Shortage, and How to End It. It’s a startling look into the depth of the affordable housing shortage facing extremely low income households, providing data at both the national and state levels showing the amount of housing needed is far greater than what is affordable and available to the lowest income renters.
Prior to the release of our report, HUD released a summary of its report to Congress on the worst case housing needs. As the Seattle Medium notes, the report shows 8.48 million renter households experiencing the worst case housing needs– severely unaffordable housing, substandard housing conditions or both– which represents a 43.5% increase since 2007.
The local CBS affiliate in Phoenix reports that due to the shortage of affordable rentals available to the lowest income people, three out of four of these renters will spend more than half of their incomes on housing costs.
Foster’s Daily Democrat in New Hampshire reports on the HUD worst case needs report, and notes that while rents in the state are increasing, the data shows that vacancy rates are down, adding another layer of difficulty for lower income renters.
While the data continue to show that low income renters face a severe housing shortage, the federal programs that help the poorest Americans with their housing needs are now subject to deep cuts. As the New York Times reports, sequestration, which took effect Friday, will result in hundreds of thousands of very poor households losing their housing assistance and becoming at risk of homelessness.
It’s time to fight for the National Housing Trust Fund.
So says the New York Times in an editorial this weekend citing the shortage of safe, decent housing affordable to the lowest income Americans as “one of America’s most vexing problems.”
Vexing is right. As National Low Income Housing Coalition analysis shows, there are only 30 units of housing affordable and available to every 100 extremely low income renters. This absolute shortage of housing has persisted and, in fact, increased over the years. The result is that these extremely low income renters are renting housing they can’t afford- the only housing available to them. And after paying for rent and utilities, 3/4 of extremely low income renter households have less than half of their income left for life’s necessities, like food, transportation and healthcare.
As dire as this situation sounds (and is), there are rays of hope when it comes to policy solutions. As the Times explains, the National Housing Trust Fund, when funded, will “create affordable housing, through rehabilitation or construction” that will end the affordable housing shortage and build on the successful efforts our nation has already made to stem the tide of homelessness.
There are two funding sources for the National Housing Trust Fund that have great potential: contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the savings from reform of the mortgage interest deduction into a credit that will benefit more middle and lower income homeowners.
The basis for proposing these two funding sources is simple: the federal government makes a significant investment in making home ownership easy for people who can already afford high-quality housing. It’s time for the government to put its housing money where the need for housing is greatest.
Think this is an idea you can endorse? You can do that right here.
We advocate on the issues that matter most.
From the fiscal cliff and sequestration to the housing needs of low income disaster victims, NLIHC focuses on issues that are timely and relevant. Our advocacy and analysis provide the information advocates across the country need to take action when it’s needed most.
We are uniquely committed to serving the lowest income Americans.
NLIHC is the only organization of its kind dedicated solely to socially just housing policy for extremely low income Americans. Often including seniors, children and people with disabilities, extremely low income households are the only population experiencing an absolute shortage of affordable housing.
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NLIHC members include homeless service providers, researchers and policy makers, faith-based organizations, public and assisted housing residents and organizations, and concerned citizens. As a result, NLIHC’s work is informed by a diverse spectrum of affordable housing stakeholders, but our only obligation is to the people most in need of affordable and decent homes.
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Support NLIHC this holiday season with a donation through our secure website!
As a reader of this blog, you understand the value of decent, stable and affordable housing, especially around the holidays. We appreciate your interest in affordable housing and your advocacy for the housing needs of the lowest income Americans. Please strengthen our advocacy work with a contribution in these last four days of 2012.
The National Association of State Budget Officers and the National Governors Association have a new report (PDF) out showing the strain federal spending cuts and increasing healthcare costs put on state budgets. In short, if the plan for deficit reduction was to pass the buck to the states, the message from the states is that it’s not working.
According to the report, states depend on the federal government for about a third of their budgets. Infrastructure, education and public safety programs have to compete with growing healthcare costs for a shrinking pool of federal aid.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition has chronicled the impact of shrinking federal resources on the ability of states to provide housing for their lowest income residents. We wrote earlier this week about our research into ways state and local governments can maximize scarce housing resources to serve extremely low income households.
Meanwhile, the brewing (and largely pointless) fight over the debt ceiling means that negotiations over the budget, debt and deficit will continue well into next year. Extended negotiations mean additional opportunities for spending cuts, and as one commentator says, “if you’re not willing to inflict epic levels of suffering on the very poor, there just aren’t a lot of cuts to be had.”
How are federal budget cuts impacting your state? Have you talked with your Member of Congress or her staff about what budget cuts mean for the housing situation of low income people in your state? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition is fortunate to have great interns every semester and summer. Fall intern Max Steininger, a political science major at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., shares his experiences as an intern with us today.
Think interning with the Coalition might be for you? You’re in luck! We’re now accepting applicants for spring 2013 internships.
Before heading to college in Washington, D.C., the need for low income housing had never really been of issue of great importance to me. Growing up in suburban Iowa, I never really considered how important affordable housing is. After a limited amount of time in D.C., I realized how widespread a problem the lack of housing is in all regions in the country. Without a home, how can anyone be expected to improve their standing in education, income or health?
These growing concerns coupled with my interest in policy and governmental relations lead me to finding the internship position at NLIHC. Since joining, I’ve experienced a great combination of direct work and discussion in regard to housing in addition to an extensive amount of work researching and compiling information about how housing organizations can best advocate for the cause.
Though I joined because of my interest in policy work, interning with NLIHC has shown me the extensive landscape of nonprofits, advocacy groups and cause-driven coalitions. The number of acronyms I was presented with seemed a bit daunting at first, but continually hearing about and interacting with such a large group of organizations helped me to learn the basic structures of nonprofits and their partner organizations well.
In addition to learning the importance and scope of nonprofit advocacy groups in government, interning has done more to teach me about the actual processes that take place within government more than any class ever could. From attending a meeting with the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to just having extensive discussions with the members of the NLIHC policy team, my experience has allowed me to be surrounded by intelligent people who are passionate, well-informed, and insightful about a meaningful issue. No other work I’ve done has been so educational in a field I’m passionate about and simultaneously been so beneficial to the human condition.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition is fortunate to have great interns every semester and summer. Our fall interns have been with us for a few weeks and are excited to share their experiences at the Coalition with you. Think interning with the Coalition might be for you? You’re in luck! We’ll begin accepting intern applicants this Friday.
Finding an internship during the school year is a challenge. An internship has to accommodate the life of a student— multiple exams and essays stacked on one day, many a sleepless night, the occasional mandatory meeting—as well as have the authenticity of a “real world” job. As if that weren’t demanding enough, an internship should relate to what one would like to do with one’s life. Thus, despite receiving many internship offers, from working as a beekeeper to tutoring elementary schoolers, none of these prospective internships really resonated with me as a Government and Politics major. In addition, an internship should be something that you can not only learn from, but something that you can be passionate about. Thus, the summer before school started, the daunting challenge of finding an internship that possessed all these qualities loomed large.
Fortunately, I was lucky enough to find the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s internship program. Suddenly, finding the perfect internship no longer seemed impossible. As one of the Outreach Interns I am involved daily in the inner workings of NLIHC, which has truly allowed me to understand more about public policy in the nation and how constituents work to advocate programs to the federal government. And, yes, this is much more applicable to my major in Government and Politics than raising bees would have been.
This internship has taught me the importance and role that housing plays in today’s society. Every day someone is unable to pay rent because housing in this country is unaffordable. Through my time at NLIHC I have learned that this problem affects everyone in this country, rich and poor. The people at NLIHC have decided that this issue needs to be addressed, no matter how long it takes to change it for the better. Having an opportunity to work among some of the most dedicated and passionate people, who work to make this nation a better place, has been inspirational.
Not many people get the opportunity to intern somewhere like this; I am lucky I have had this chance. My advice? Don’t let an opportunity like this slip by. There are only so few chances to work somewhere that will understand your needs while fostering a passion for helping others through civic means.