Just as baseball has its sabermetrics, the affordable housing industry has its metrics to chew on. There’s no shortage of stats to study, numbers to analyze, budgets to balance. When words fail, numbers help to explain.
A couple of months into 2015, a new set of revealing figures has emerged. In February, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reported that the number of renter households with worst-case needs declined to 7.7 million in 2013, a welcome change. Still, the number of really struggling families is 49% greater than in 2003. That’s 7.7 million households with very low incomes who do not receive government housing assistance and who either paid more than half their incomes for rent, lived in substandard conditions, or both.
Coincidentally, the report came a day after the Obama administration released its fiscal 2016 budget plan. If the study was a look at worst-case needs, the proposed budget is a best-case plan. It gives HUD $49.3 billion, a sizable increase over current levels. Sure, there’s a level of political theater in the proposal. The request is most certainly going to be opposed: One lawmaker even called the overall budget “laughable.” Even so, it’s an important step. Here are five proposals to know:
• $1.06 billion for the HOME program, a nearly 18% hike from this year (however, Community Development Block Grant funding would be cut from $3 billion to $2.8 billion);
• $250 million for the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, a 213% hike from the current $80 million;
• $21.1 billion for tenant-based rental assistance, a 9% increase from the current $19.3 billion;
• $10.76 billion for project-based rental assistance, a more-than 10% increase from the current $9.73 billion; and
• $2.48 billion for homeless assistance grants, a 16% increase from the current $2.14 billion.
Baseball’s spring training season started in February. The budget request came out the same month. Right now, both are full of promise.