Housing Budget Cuts and the Homeless



Most people have forgotten the government sequester that ended in December 2013. However, across the board cuts in services that took place last spring have had effects that are still impacting the poor and homeless. Housing programs that were available to families with children, the elderly, and the disabled to prevent homelessness have suffered, leaving those populations struggling to find housing. The effects of these cuts are aggravated by the dangerous crisis in the availability of affordable housing. With rising housing costs, the lack of jobs paying a living wage, and the high unemployment rate nationwide, families in need are perilously closer to homelessness. At this point only one in four families who actually qualify for federal renting assistance receive assistance.



For example, the Section 8 housing assistance program is funded by Congress based on the number of vouchers issued the previous year. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities the number of families using Section 8 vouchers for private housing is 70,000 lower than the previous year. The most dramatic drop in the use of vouchers occurred in Alaska, Kansas, and Montana. The December 2013 decision restricts states from replacing less than half of the vouchers that were lost in 2013. This will negatively impact the over 2 million families in poverty whose rents are subsidized by Section 8. Because of those across the board cuts local agencies have stopped issuing vouchers and in some cases have recalled vouchers that were not already promised to landlords. Families who were in the process of seeking housing with the belief they would be subsidized are now left to flounder uncertainly. The panic and fear they now experience due to government irresponsibility is inexcusable.


As if this wasn’t tragic enough public housing developments, many already in poor living conditions, are unable to make necessary repairs to properties. Unable to complete repairs many apartments remain vacant and waiting lists grow larger. This reduction in available apartments also increases the homeless situation. The government cuts to homeless assistance grants have caused states to drop about sixty thousand from emergency shelter programs and housing assistance. The burden on local faith based agencies is heavier and often unbearable leaving the formerly homeless who have utilized assistance once again facing the streets as their only resource.

The effects of the budget cuts and sequestration deals continue to impact the lives of America’s less fortunate out of sight of the general population.







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