Today’s post comes to us from Amanda Benton (née Krusemark), director of grassroots mobilizing at the Alliance.
Over the last couple of months, the Alliance has been working with the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding (CHCDF) to secure the greatest possible amount of overall funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in fiscal year (FY) 2012.
The HUD budget funds programs that offer affordable housing to needy families, assist homeless people into stable living situations, provide block grants to improve communities, among others. The HUD budget has and continues to provide assistance to the lowest-income and most vulnerable Americans who have been hit hardest by our recent economic downturn – and this includes homeless and at-risk veterans as well as their families.
On Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill to provide $37 billion in new funding in FY 2012 for HUD – about 10 percent less than last year. The HUD Appropriations Subcommittee in the House has proposed similar legislation that would cut funding for HUD programs by 7.3 percent. Key senators are already meeting with their colleagues in the House to work out a final, compromise piece of legislation.
Under the spending caps set by the deficit reduction deal passed in August, funding for non-security discretionary spending (as opposed to mandatory spending, like Medicaid) should decline by an average of about five percent relative to last year; in other words, both current House and Senate proposals would hit the HUD budget disproportionately.
These reductions would result in thousands fewer Housing Choice Vouchers and deep cuts to public housing, HOME, CDBG, and other critical affordable housing programs. While funding for HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program would not be cut, it would also not receive the additional resources needed to meet the growing need for homeless assistance resources, implement the HEARTH Act, and achieve the goals of the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.
Congress has expressed a bipartisan commitment to ensure that deficit reduction efforts do not happen on the backs of the most vulnerable Americans, but many affordable housing programs have nonetheless seen dramatic cuts. These federal reductions, especially when coupled with shrinking state and local budgets, will further swell the number of people experiencing and at risk of homelessness – making it all the more necessary to provide additional resources to homeless assistance programs.
However, without additional resources for HUD programs overall, the House and Senate HUD Appropriations Subcommittees will be very hard-pressed as they work out a compromise bill to provide increased resources to specific programs and help avoid some of the most painful cuts to affordable housing programs.
So, we invite you to join our effort: contact your Member of Congress today, and ask him/her to work with their colleagues to provide the highest possible amount for HUD programs for FY 2012.For more information or to learn about Alliance advocacy efforts, please email Amanda Krusemark Benton.