Category Archives: Advocacy

An Update on President Trump’s Proposed Housing Budget

This message is from Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition:

President Donald Trump is expected to send to Congress a high-level budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2018 next week. An overview of early drafts by the Washington Post show the severity of cuts under consideration. Multiple sources confirm that OMB Director Mick Mulvaney could slash the HUD budget by as much as 14% ($6 billion)-without considering inflationary adjustments. There is a national shortage of 7.4 million homes affordable and available to the lowest income people in this country. Just one in four low income people in need of assistance, including seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, and veterans, get the help they need. In light of these considerations, these suggested cuts are unconscionable and unacceptable. Such draconian reductions could cause homelessness.

The proposed cuts would devastate critical programs that keep roofs over the heads of some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. They are in direct contrast to Mr. Trump’s promises to revitalize distressed communities and ensure that “nobody’s going to be dying on the street” from homelessness.

Mr. Trump’s proposed budget would slash resources to repair and rehabilitate public housing developments by two-thirds. Even before these dramatic cuts, we lose an estimated 10,000 public housing apartments each year due to chronic underfunding; the capital needs backlog is close to $40 billion and grows at a rate of $4.3 billion per year. Such deep cuts would allow properties in which billions of dollars have been invested over decades to fall further into disrepair. Communities would lose a long-standing asset that has provided millions of people a place to call home and that-with the proper investment-can continue to do so for generations to come.

The proposed cuts to Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance could result in more than 200,000 families losing that critical support. Many would be forced to pay even more of their limited incomes on rent, having insufficient resources left for food, healthcare, transportation and other basic needs. Others would be unable to cover the increased cost of their rents and would face the destabilizing impact of eviction, which has especially damaging effects on children and their ability to succeed in school. In the worst cases, these families will become homeless, reversing the gains made in recent years to reduce homelessness in America.

Mr. Trump further proposes cutting resources that provide thousands more affordable homes for the lowest income seniors and people with disabilities. This would put residents at an especially high risk of eviction and homelessness, make it difficult for landlords to make their monthly mortgage payments, and erode the public-private partnerships that make these rental homes possible.

While Native Americans have some of the worst housing needs in the U.S.-suffering from extreme levels of poverty and substandard housing-Mr. Trump’s proposed budget would cut resources targeted to these communities by nearly a quarter.

And by eliminating block grant resources for community development and housing production, the Trump budget would undermine the ability for states and communities to address their most pressing needs.

Federal investments in affordable housing have already been cut significantly in recent years because of the low spending caps required by the Budget Control Act of 2011. Funding to HUD was already $3.4 billion-or 8.4%-lower in 2016 than in 2010, adjusted for inflation. The same programs that would suffer dramatic cuts in Mr. Trump’s budget are those that have been hardest hit in recent years-public housing, community development and housing block grants, and housing for the elderly and people with disabilities.

This is the wrong approach. Mr. Trump and Congress should be increasing investments in affordable homes-not dramatically cutting resources. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s (NLIHC) recently released report, The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes, the U.S. has a shortage of 7.4 million affordable rental homes available to the nation’s 11.4 million extremely low income households. This means that for every 100 extremely low income households, there are just 35 rental homes affordable and available to them. As a result, 71% pay more than half of their income on rent and utilities. Despite the growing housing affordability crisis, just one in four households eligible for housing assistance receive the help they need.

The NLIHC-led Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding recently released a new report, A Place to Call Home, showcasing the latest research on how access to affordable housing boosts economic mobility, reduces poverty and homelessness, improves health outcomes, and strengthens the economy by supporting local jobs and increasing wages. The report estimates that more than 500,000 jobs were supported through HUD investments in 2015 alone. It also features more than 100 success stories of how families and communities have benefited from federal investments in affordable housing-from the very programs that the Trump budget proposes to cut.

These proposed cuts are unacceptable, and Congress must soundly reject them. We call on HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson to uphold the commitments he made during his confirmation process. At that time, Dr. Carson said, “We need to be cognizant of our fiscal responsibilities as well as our social responsibilities. Safety net programs are important. I would never abolish one without having an alternative.” We couldn’t agree more. Dr. Carson must uphold his commitment to “house as many families as possible in safe, affordable housing…and look for ways to expand affordable housing options everywhere” by urging Mr. Trump and Mr. Mulvaney to reverse these harmful cuts before submitting a budget proposal to Congress.

Furthermore, Mr. Trump and Congress must lift the spending caps with parity for defense and non-defense programs and ensure the highest level of funding possible for affordable housing. We cannot afford to balance our budget on the backs of low-income people. Instead, we must invest in the resources that families and communities need to thrive.

Join NLIHC and other leaders of CHCDF for a webinar on March 20 at 4pm to learn more about the impact of President Trump’s proposed budget and how you can help protect these critical resources.

 

Important Correction: Network Funding Cut

An announcement from the Western MA Network to End Homelessness Leadership Council Chair Andrew Morehouse:

I am writing to inform you that much to our surprise, the Network’s earmark funding for Fiscal Year 2017 was actually cut through the Governor’s 9C budget authority.

This cut had not been recorded in any public documentation, which was the source of the Network’s misunderstanding. After sharing the “false positive” news on this blog last week, we received a call from DHCD advising us of the administrative error. We have since received more verbal confirmation and still await written record of the actual correction. Our big mistake!

The Network Steering Committee and Leadership Council will start planning for this funding loss now.  Based on an analysis of expenditures, revenues to date and cash in reserves, the Network has funds to cover projected expenses for approximately three more months, which would bring us to the end of February.

While we may not know the final chapter on this year’s funding, the Network will plan accordingly.

We will be in touch as this process unfolds.

Best,

Andrew Morehouse
Executive Director
The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts
97 North Hatfield Road
PO Box 160
Hatfield, MA  01038
413-247-9738  Ext. #115
www.foodbankwma.org

National Low Income Housing Coalition Advocacy Guide

NLIHC’s Advocacy Guide for the
Election Season

NLIHC Summer Issues Guide

Over the next few months, affordable housing and community development organizations have an opportunity to influence a number of critical issues before Congress and to help break through the noise of the Presidential campaigns to make affordable housing an election issue.

This summer and fall, Congress will be in their home districts and states between August 1 and September 6 and again between October 10 and November 11.

To help advocates make full use of this time, NLIHC has created a Summer/Fall 2016 Advocacy Guide, outlining the five key ways organizations can take action between now and the November elections to advocate for the issues that are most important to their mission, the people they serve, and their community.

The Advocacy Guide covers ways organizations can help:

  • Increase federal spending on key federal housing programs;
  • Expand and improve the Low Income Housing Tax Credit;
  • Ensure that housing needs are addressed in criminal justice reform;
  • Support the Make Room campaign—an initiative to demand that Congress make affordable housing a top priority; and
  • Use NLIHC Voterization resources to engage voters and candidates.

For more information and best practices on how nonprofit organizations and individuals can lobby their elected officials, see Lobbying: Individual and 501(c)(3) Organizations in NLIHC’s 2016 Advocates’ Guide.

Advocacy Alert: Override Votes This Weekend and Next

The formal House and Senate sessions for override votes will take place this Saturday, 7/23, and next weekend, 7/30 and 7/31 (the weekend timing is due to the national political conventions during both work weeks and the fact that overrides must be completed by 7/31).

The Network’s priorities for requested overrides include:

  • The Western MA Network to End Homelessness (7004-0102): restore funding of $125,000 in order to provide maximum collaboration and impact across the region’s four Western counties in the effort to prevent and end homelessness;
  • RAFT (7004-9316):  restore the eligibility expansion to include this vital prevention resource for the elderly, disabled and unaccompanied homeless youth; and
  • Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (7004-9024): restore the $2.4 million cut to bring this critical housing program to level funding of $90.9 million.

Also as an additional point of information, please note that funding for Craig’s Doors, which is the only individual emergency shelter in Amherst and the only behavior-based shelter in all of Hampshire County, was also vetoed by the Governor in the same line-item as the Network funding (in which all earmarks were vetoed).  While the Network has not had an opportunity to take a formal position on this veto, I wanted to make sure you were aware and ask you to consider your own action on the matter.

Please contact both your representative and senator to urge their support of these overrides. You can find your legislator contact info here: https://malegislature.gov/People

Thank you for your advocacy.