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HUD housing programs at risk locally and across the nation

January 26, 2013

by Lynda Carson

Oakland – The Oakland Housing Authority administers 13,259 Section 8 voucher units in Oakland, owns and operates around 3,300 conventional public housing units, and assists about 10 percent of Oakland’s low-income families with their housing needs. San Francisco has 8,611 Section 8 units, Berkeley 1,939, the Housing Authority of Alameda County 6,097, Richmond 1,750, Marin County 2,145, and Contra Costa County Housing Authority 6,763.

New York protest against cuts to Section 8 2004 by Bonile Bam, Getty
For the poor, elderly and disabled, a Section 8 voucher can be their only protection against homelessness. – Photo: Bonile Bam
Low-income tenants in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program pay 30 to 40 percent of their monthly income for rent, and the rest of the rent is paid to the landlord by the program. Years of cuts have so torn the housing safety net that most of those eligible for federal housing assistance fall through the holes.

Now massive spending cuts to the nation’s federal housing programs are scheduled to go into effect on March 1, 2013, threatening thousands of low-income families in Oakland and other Bay Area cities with higher rent than they can pay. Additionally, several hundred thousand or more low-income families all across the nation could lose their vouchers.

On Jan. 23, the Washington Post reported that top leaders in both major political parties predicted that massive across-the-board spending cuts to the nation’s domestic programs and the Pentagon known as “sequestration” will go into effect on March 1 as scheduled, at least temporarily.

“It’s going to happen,” said Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., adding that Republicans in both chambers are determined to make $1.2 trillion in spending cuts during the next decade.

The latest deals in Washington that were agreed upon by the Democrats and Republicans since late December to avoid a fight over the nation’s debt ceiling and to avoid going over the so-called “fiscal cliff” resulted in more than 80 percent of the Bush era tax cuts remaining in effect and $110 billion in automatic spending cuts scheduled to go into effect on March 1. Additional spending cuts of around $110 billion per year are also scheduled to go into effect during the next 10 years.

Massive spending cuts to the nation’s federal housing programs are scheduled to go into effect on March 1, 2013, threatening thousands of low-income families in Oakland and other Bay Area cities with higher rent than they can pay.

The catastrophic spending cuts scheduled to occur on March 1 threaten many of the nation’s domestic anti-poverty programs, including the housing programs, pitting the needs of the elderly, disabled and the poor against the over-bloated military budget and the interests of wealthy Pentagon contractors.

As a direct result of the latest so-called fiscal cliff deal, the spending cuts to the nation’s housing programs threaten at least 250,000 voucher holders across the nation with eviction, if the cuts go into effect on March 1 as scheduled. The cuts also threaten tens of thousands of low-income renters who reside in so-called affordable housing developments owned and operated by local nonprofit housing developers in the Bay Area and across the nation.

The scheduled catastrophic spending cuts threaten the nation’s federal housing programs administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), including $1.53 billion to be cut from HUD’s Section 8 tenant-based rental assistance (Housing Choice Voucher Program), $772 million from Section 8 project-based rental assistance, $325 million from the public housing operating fund, including an additional cut of $154 million from public housing capital funds, $31 million from elderly senior housing, $14 million from housing for people with disabilities, $27 million from housing for people with AIDS, plus $74 million from the USDA’s rural housing program and $156 million from homeless assistance grants.

The spending cuts will also affect local housing programs in Berkeley, San Francisco, Alameda, Richmond, Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Marin County and throughout California.

The catastrophic spending cuts scheduled to occur on March 1 threaten many of the nation’s domestic anti-poverty programs, including the housing programs, pitting the needs of the elderly, disabled and the poor against the over-bloated military budget and the interests of wealthy Pentagon contractors.

The City of Los Angeles faces a massive $48 million spending cut to their Section 8 housing voucher program. According to the LA Times, in a report submitted to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Jan. 3, City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana stated that an estimated 15,000 families that rely on housing vouchers would on average see their rent expenses increase by $116 per month if Congress fails to block the automatic across-the-board spending cuts scheduled for March 1.

Additionally, the Housing Authority of Los Angeles County seeks HUD approval to terminate rental assistance for 1,800 families if the spending cuts take place or to raise the rents on 21,132 households.

In Sacramento, according to the website for the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency, if the spending cuts take effect, they will have to take back around 950 vouchers from households in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program.

hanoprotest
Section 8 vouchers have at best been sufficient to house only a quarter of all who are eligible, and now even more families will face homelessness if the March 1 cuts are imposed. – Photo: Jennifer Zdon, New Orleans Times-Picayune
“Cuts to the Homeless Assistance Grant account would result in approximately 100,000 more people on the streets if the spending cuts go into effect,” says Rep. Dick Norman, D-Wash.

More than 900 organizations nationwide have spoken out against the massive spending cuts. In a call to action, activists continue to urge low-income families in the federally subsidized housing programs to immediately contact their representatives and to urge the Obama administration and Congress to stop the automatic spending cuts scheduled to go into effect on March 1, which could result in the eviction of 250,000 voucher holders in HUD housing programs.

Low-income families are being urged to demand that all of HUD’s housing assistance programs remain fully funded to meet the housing needs for everyone in those programs.

These massive cutbacks in the nation’s housing programs may never be imposed if Congress and the Obama administration stop the scheduled spending cuts. But if the cuts do occur, elderly, disabled and poor low-income families will suffer great harm and will face homelessness as a direct result. The scheduled 8.2 percent spending cuts would damage anti-poverty programs, homeless programs, public housing and Housing Choice Voucher Program (formerly called Section 8 vouchers).

In a call to action, activists continue to urge low-income families in the federally subsidized housing programs to immediately contact their representatives and to urge the Obama administration and Congress to stop the automatic spending cuts scheduled to go into effect on March 1, which could result in the eviction of 250,000 voucher holders in HUD housing programs.

In its own assessment of the dire situation, HUD estimates that 250,000 voucher holders will lose their housing if sequestration takes effect, resulting in nearly a million people losing their federal housing assistance and being placed at risk of homelessness.

HUD has been notifying cities and public housing authorities across the nation to prepare for huge spending cuts to their housing assistance programs if sequestration is not stopped by Congress and the Obama administration before March 1.

Those most threatened by the spending cuts are the people least able to survive without HUD housing programs. According to the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities (CLPHA), 303,499 seniors rely on Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers for affordable housing. Section 8 housing is also home to 458,124 households with disabled family members. And 59 percent of Section 8 households are families with children – more than 2,357,977 children in total – with an average annual family income of $11,049.

Lynda Carson may be reached at tenantsrule@yahoo.com.

 

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19 thoughts on “HUD housing programs at risk locally and across the nation

    1. eaglesrhyme2

      People on Housing are not all as some would say lowlifes, some have families some do not, maybe their income isnt as good as others are,are have the money to go to college, or enough money to spend on gas to get there, yes there are computers and librarys, but some might not be able to have access, not everyone is lucky enough to have that perfect job that pays well, some need help. These cutbacks well put more of a strain on society, there well be even more people doing the wrong things instead of the right things.

      Reply
      1. eaglesrhyme2

        Do not Sterotype people for being on Housing,if a person is on it or not, people are people. there are good and bad, and some cant figure out where they stand. But this effects us all, and we need these programs,we need to stand up and save them,for who ever is being effected by this,we cant let it fall a part,some how somw way we need to stand together, look out for each other.Something is always being taken from in society, like cutbacks in our Police Departments and Fire Departments, it saddens me, these Forces are stretched beyond.

        Reply
  1. Lanear watts

    I think subsidized housing, welfare and IHSS should be a stepping stone for able bodied people and not a right or a life time assistance program. I have seen people live off the system all their lives without ever trying to pursue a degree or trade. Sometimes when contingencies and limits are not in place, people become complacent and unproductive members in society with no sense of priorities. I say this because i have a tenant that I am evicting who is in her late 40′s. She has not paid her rent on time since her occupancy. She is always 2 or three months late and will not pay unless I report her to Section 8. She has received lump sum payments of back due child support and still has not paid me what she owes. She has told me that she must have cable and she had to pay other people back when she got her lump sum. She hasn’t worked a day in her life or maybe a few days. I work every day and I have had to sacrifice so many luxuries, including cable, to keep a roof over my head and not loose my property. I had to rent it out and move to a cheap studio. But now I am paying for the studio and the house because she refused to pay. Some people use government subsidy programs to fund their rise to greatness and productivity, others use it to become leeches, pariahs and burdens to an already overly taxed working citizenry.
    There should be some reform. Especially when a young person, below the age of 35 gets on the program. There should be a mandatory five year educational and job search plan with proven implementation to continue on the program.

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