President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget proposal calls for slashing many long-standing housing programs. The industry has experienced cuts before, but nothing like this in recent years. It’s essentially a how-to guide to increasing homelessness in the country.
It doesn’t take an expert to look at the deep, drastic cuts proposed for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and recognize that there would be severe consequences for low-income families. But, just to be sure, I asked a few industry leaders, including Mary Cunningham of the Urban Institute and Steve Berg of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, two evidence-minded people, and, yup, they agreed that the extreme cuts would trigger a rise in homelessness.
How could the plan not? Tenant-based rental assistance is proposed to be slashed by $974 million, a move that’s estimated to affect approximately 250,000 households. Here’s another one: Homeless assistance grants would be reduced by $133 million. That doesn’t sound like a huge cut, but it’s one that would mean about 25,000 individuals remaining or becoming homeless.
In addition, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which coordinates the work of multiple federal agencies, is in line to be eliminated under the Trump plan.
As the budget process unfolds, make it clear that the administration’s spending request would be disastrous to low-income working families, seniors, and the disabled. If anything resembling the proposed cuts is adopted, all the recent gains made to reduce homelessness would be in jeopardy of being erased. All the ground made would be lost.
Several lawmakers have said Trump’s budget is “dead on arrival.” That may be the case, but the proposal remains dangerous, setting the table for a compromise that could still be awful for affordable housing. It throws open the door to big reductions or even the elimination of longtime programs without any alternatives in place.
Lawmakers should be on notice they’ll be judged on the budget numbers and the number of homeless left on the street.