The United States has a shortage of 7.4 billion affordable rental homes, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), and the budget proposed by President Donald Trump, which cuts $7 billion from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, will create a crisis for some 4.5 million low-income households.
“This is unconscionable and unacceptable,” said Diane Yentel, president of the NLIHC, who was one of the main speakers presenting a webinar recently which drew a number of corporate staff together.
Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York, per the NLIHC, would have 199,970 vouchers cut. They would experience a $1.9 billion decrease in public housing funding; $3 billion in Community Development Block Grants; and $1 billion in HOME, Choice Neighborhoods and other affordable housing programs.
This is done to support President Trump’s proposed increase of $54 billion in defense spending, which he does by scratching out the same amount from domestic programs. HUD is just one target, but the one that greatly affects those of us who care about affordable housing. CEO Kate Franco noted that such a budget would have severe repercussions for Trinity Management, Trinity Financial and, most importantly, the communities we serve. She also said, in a twist of the President’s well-known slogan, “We have to make our communities great again.”
The new HUD Secretary, Ben Carson, recently told his staff that this is just a proposal at this point. “Rest assured, we are working hard to support those programs that help so many Americans, focus on our core mission and ensure that every tax dollar is spent wisely and effectively,” he said.
And, there is reason to hope that at least one program will be increased. A bipartisan bill proposed by senators Orin Hatch (R) and Maria Cantwell (D) would double the Low-Income Tax Credit program, which is the go-to source of funds for many developers of affordable properties.
Still, the budget for many of the programs that help the poor will be cut – Meals on Wheels, legal aid in civil matters, weatherization programs, home heating assistance, job training, Habitat for Humanity, Youth Build, the Housing Investment Partnership Fund (which is designed to create affordable housing), and the many HUD programs outlined above.
The NLIHC called on supporters to act by contacting their Congressional Delegation to voice support for affordable housing and disapproval of the severe cuts that have been proposed. They point out that one should never be confrontational, or as the old adage goes, honey works better than vinegar. A nice but firm letter expressing disapproval of the proposals would be good. Or, a letter to the editor or an Op-ed piece in your local papers could be effective.
Congress is in recess from April 10-21, so visits to Congressional delegations in their home offices are possible. And, if you have friends and family in other states – states with representatives who are not as concerned about low-income people – you might ask them to write to them or to their newspapers in support of affordable housing.
“Housing is the foundation of well-being,” the NLIHC spokespeople emphasized, a sentiment that, surely, the Trinity Team can affirm.
See The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes, March 2107, http://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/Gap-Report_2017.pdf.
Another good source of information is the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan research and policy institute that seeks to “reduce poverty and inequality and to restore fiscal responsibility in equitable and effective ways.” See http://www.cbpp.org/about/mission-history