Fiscal Cliff deal leaves HUD's housing programs at risk
By Lynda Carson
Oakland -- The Oakland Housing Authority administers around 13,259 Section 8 voucher units in Oakland, owns and operates around 3,300 conventional public housing units, and assists around 10% of Oakland's low-income families with their housing needs.
Unless massive spending cuts to the nation's housing programs are blocked that are scheduled to go into effect on March 1, 2013, thousands of low-income families in Oakland and other Bay Area cities may face higher rent increases as a result, or may face the loss of their housing vouchers.
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 voucher from the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program.
The latest deals in Washington that were agreed upon by the Democrats and Republicans to avoid going over the so-called "fiscal cliff" resulted in more than 80% of the Bush era tax cuts permanently remaining in effect, and leaves around $110 billion in automatic spending cuts that are scheduled to go into effect on March 1, 2013, including more spending cuts that are scheduled to go into effect for many years ahead that will threaten the nation's housing programs, and anti-poverty programs as a direct result.
The spending cuts being proposed threaten many of the the nation's domestic anti-poverty programs, social security, and medicare, and pits those in need including the baby boomers, elderly, disabled and the poor, against the needs of the over bloated pentagon/military budgets, and their wealthy contractors.
As a direct result of the latest so-called fiscal cliff deal, the spending cuts to the nation's housing programs that are to go into effect threaten at least 250,000 voucher holders across the nation with eviction, if the spending cuts go into effect on March 1, 2013, as scheduled.
Additionally, the spending cuts also threaten tens of thousands of low-income renters that reside in so-called affordable housing developments, owned and operated by local nonprofit housing developers in the Bay Area.
The scheduled catastrophic spending cuts threaten the nation's federal housing programs of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), including $1.53 billion in spending cuts from HUD’s Section 8 tenant-based rental assistance (Housing Choice Voucher Program), $772 million in 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.
Other local areas of low-income renters threatened by the scheduled catastrophic spending cuts to the nation's housing programs include the cities of Berkeley, San Francisco, Alameda, Richmond, Alameda County, Contra Costa County, and Marin County.
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, 2013, that 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 must remain fully funded to cover the costs of 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 many 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).
Rep. Dick Norman, Democrat from Washington state and the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, wrote on Oct. 9, 2012, that 200,000 voucher holders may be evicted from subsidized housing across the nation if the spending cuts go into effect.
Furthermore, Rep. Norman writes that in some markets, the income provided by Section 8 tenants wouldn’t be replaced by new tenants, and landlords would lose income as a result. Norman also stated that cuts to the Homeless Assistant Grant account would result in approximately 100,000 more people on the streets if the spending cuts goes into effect.
However, in their own assessment of the dire situation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that 250,000 voucher holders will lose their housing if sequestration (spending cuts) takes effect, resulting in nearly one million people losing their federal housing assistance and being placed at risk of homelessness.
Because the spending cuts are still scheduled to go into effect, HUD has been notifying cities and Public Housing Authorities across the nation that they may face huge spending cuts to their housing assistance programs, if the scheduled spending cuts are not stopped by Congress and the Obama Administration before March 1, 2013.
As for those that are being affected by the spending cuts scheduled to go into effect on March 1, 2013, according to the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities (CLPHA), about 303,499 seniors rely on Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers for affordable housing. Also, Section 8 housing is home to 458,124 households with one or more disabled family member. In addition, 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.
In a call to action, all low-income families in federally subsidized housing programs are being asked 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, 2013, that could result in the eviction of 250,000 voucher holders in HUD housing programs.
Lynda Carson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org