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ICYMI: The Sequester and the Homeless

Consequences from sequestration continue to reverberate even after December’s budget deal.  The previous year’s cuts have deepened and prolonged our nation’s rental affordability housing crisis, a crisis that is described by Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan as the worst our country has known. On Sunday the New York Times Editorial Board ran a piece highlighting the impact the sequester continues to have on millions of Americans:

The sequester seriously damaged the Section 8 housing program, which subsidizes rents for more than two million of the nation’s poorest families. Local housing authorities reacted to the across-the-board cuts by tightening the screws on this voucher program. They ceased to issue new vouchers that would ordinarily have gone to homeless or needy families and even recalled vouchers that had been issued but had not yet been committed to landlords. An analysis released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities showed that, as of December, there were 70,000 fewer low-income families using vouchers to rent private housing than there were a year earlier… The drop in the number of vouchers in circulation works against the program; Congress generally funds the program based on the number of vouchers in service the previous year. The December budget deal that ended sequestration will allow housing agencies to replace less than half of the 70,000 vouchers lost in 2013. Given the pressing need, it should come up with the money to restore the rest. The sequester also hurt the long-neglected public developments that house about 1.1 million of the country’s most vulnerable families. These developments had been staggering along under ever-shrinking operating budgets — and a $26 billion backlog in repairs — even before the sequester. When further cuts came along, three quarters of state and local housing agencies reacted by cutting the number of families served, letting waiting lists grow and leaving damaged apartments vacant rather than repairing them.

The editorial continues to detail the cuts made to homeless assistance grants which have led to the removal of over 60,000 formerly homeless persons from housing and emergency shelter programs.  Read the full article online here (see also in PDF).

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