The Trump administration has again released a budget proposal that cuts funding for longtime public housing and community development programs.
The fiscal 2021 plan requests $47.9 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), $8.6 billion less than the enacted level for this year. Under the proposal, the HOME and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) programs would be eliminated.
The administration has tried to kill the programs and reduce funding for other HUD initiatives before, but Congress has maintained its support, with HOME receiving $1.35 billion and the CDBG fund receiving $3.43 billion in 2020.
On the public housing front, the proposal requests $28.4 billion for the Office of Public and Indian Housing, about $4 billion less than this year. HUD is seeking to combine the public housing operating and capital funds into a “public housing fund,” which would receive $3.57 billion. That’s about $3.8 billion less than the enacted levels for the two funds in 2020.
HUD says the decrease is partly due to moving funds to a proposed Moving to Work (MTW) account. There are 39 current MTW public housing authorities (PHAs), and HUD expects to add 30 new PHAs, which would serve 94,000 of the approximately 915,000 public housing units, says the budget plan.
Affordable housing advocates are calling on members of Congress to reject the latest reductions to HUD funding.
"A 15% reduction in the HUD budget hurts communities and families," says Adrianne Todman, CEO of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials. "These families may be faceless and nameless at the national level, but they are ever present and sometimes desperate at the local level. Our country is blessed with abundant resources; we can and should do better.
Once again, it will be up to Congressional leaders to "correct this wrong, as they thankfully have during the past several budget cycles," she says, adding "Here we go again."
Others also blasted the spending plan.
“The president proposes deep cuts to safety-net programs that provide food, housing, and health care to the nation’s lowest-income seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, and others, in order to pay for massive tax cuts for wealthy corporations and people and to further expand our bloated military budget,” says Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC). “With this proposal, president Trump and [HUD] secretary Carson make clear their willingness to increase evictions and homelessness—through rent hikes for some of the lowest-income people in subsidized housing and slashing or eliminating funding for programs that keep the poorest people in our country affordably and safely housed.”
HUD’s biggest program is tenant-based rental assistance (TBRA), also known as the Housing Choice Voucher program, and the proposed budget seeks to cut TBRA by $5 billion next year. The administration requests $18.8 billion for the voucher program, down from about $23.9 billion. The proposal says funds would be moved to the proposed MTW account. MTW agencies have been partially funded out of the TBRA account.
Reductions to rental assistance would be devastating, says advocates.
“With these cuts, over 160,000 families who currently receive rental assistance could be at risk of losing their assistance and their ability to afford their home,” say NLIHC leaders in a statement. “As he has in previous years, secretary Carson claims that the budget would continue rental assistance for all existing households. This is misleading and untrue: The proposed budget does not provide enough funding to cover the full cost of housing assistance without first imposing harmful rent increases and work requirement.”
Under the proposal, funding for project-based rental assistance would increase about $72 million to $12.64 billion. Funding for the Section 202 senior housing program increases to $853 million from $793 million, under the proposal, which also calls for the Section 811 program for persons with disabilities to increase to $252 million from $202 million.
With homelessness increasing in the nation last year, the issue has been gaining much attention. However, the budget calls for reducing homeless assistance grants by $4 million to $2.8 billion.
“The best opportunity for Carson to show his commitment to ending homelessness is in his federal spending proposal, and here he proposes cuts and policy changes that will only exacerbate the crisis,” Yentel says.