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  THE LOW INCOME & URBAN HOUSING BLOG  

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Federal Budget Cuts Affect Families Who Depend on Affordable Housing

People Marching For Section 8

By now, many of the affects from the recent Federal budget cuts are now beginning to be felt by people. As experts predicted, public housing operating funds have been hit the hardest - Congress cut $3.8 billion from the housing budget. By 2014, it is estimated that about 140,000 additional low-income families will not be able to receive help because state and local housing agencies will be forced to cut the number of low-income families using Housing Choice Vouchers.

These are not just numbers. These are real people--men, women and children who may end up homeless. Here's an example. A young women with her baby lost her job, then her home. She lived in her car until she lost that, too. While living in a tent, she received notice that she was getting a housing choice voucher that would help her pay for an apartment. But after completing the paperwork and finding a place to live, her hopes were dashed when she received a second notice that the voucher was being revoked due to a cut in federal housing funds.

Sadly, this scene will become more common as more and more states are forced to cut back on housing programs because they will be receiving significantly less federal funding to support these programs. The impact will result in longer waiting lists for families. Half of the households in the voucher program are seniors with disabilities. The rest are families with children. They are already living below the poverty level and need this support to survive.

The voucher programs were already strained. In January 2012, in Oakland, California, up to 100,000 people were expected to line up to apply for 10,000 vouchers. After the local housing authority opened its waiting list in Atlanta after eight years, 62 people were injured among the 30,000 lined up for vouchers. We can expect to see more of this as less vouchers become available. We can expect to see the homeless list grow much larger not only as a result of those who cannot get vouchers but also because the cuts are affecting budgets that previously allowed states to support homeless shelters. The affect on homeless shelters alone is estimated at hundreds of thousands nationwide.

Most people agree housing cuts are a bad idea. Some have referred to it as unfathomable. Others have remarked that it is a historical moment when federal programs that help the needy are under threat. It remains to be seen what the long-term, trickle-down affects will be on the economy, and most importantly, on families.


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