For Immediate Release
Statement from NLIHC President Sheila Crowley on President Obama’s State of the Union Address
WASHINGTON - In his
first State of the Union address, President Obama challenged himself and
Congress to redouble efforts to restore our country's economic health and
get Americans back to work. I applaud his commitment to alleviate the hardships
of millions of Americans who are out of work and assuage the fears of those who
worry they will soon join the ranks of the unemployed. The use of TARP funds to
pay for immediate job creation is sound public policy that more members of
Congress are coming to embrace.
The speech was notably lacking in attention to what remains one of the
most serious threats to family stability, that is, the mortgage foreclosure
crisis and the affordable housing shortage. Not only are homeowners facing the
loss of their homes, but low income renters are competing for housing in an
ever shrinking supply of low cost rental homes. A report released by the
National Low Income Housing Coalition in 2009, stated that in 2007, the
shortage of homes affordable for extremely low income renter households (those
earning 30% or less of their area median income) was 2.7 million. The shortage
grew to 3.1 million homes in 2008. This lack of housing that the poorest
families can afford is a root cause of homelessness in the United States today. All evidence
suggests that homelessness is growing.
President's agenda rightly focuses on jobs and education. But stable,
affordable homes are fundamental to success at work and in school. The
President needs to do more to prevent foreclosure. And he needs to do more to
solve the longstanding shortage of homes that people in the low wage work force
can afford. The President needs to follow through on his commitment to
capitalize the National Housing Trust Fund. Funding the National Housing Trust
Fund with $1 billion would support the immediate production of 10,000 rental
homes. In addition to helping some low income people achieve housing stability,
an investment at this level would create 15,100 new construction jobs and 3,800
new jobs in ongoing operations.
Funding for the National Housing Trust Fund is in the "Jobs for
Main Street Act, 2010" that passed the House in December. The House bill
would use TARP funds to pay for its jobs package. The President should call on
the Senate to do the same and send him a bill to sign as soon as possible.
But more is needed to solve the affordable housing crisis. The National
Low Income Housing Coalition has called for 250,000 new Housing Choice Vouchers
in 2010. When low income families receive housing assistance that reduces the
percent of their income that they must spend on housing, they are able to
better meet the rest of their basic needs. In doing so, they are able to
contribute to their local economies if they have the income to purchase goods
and services, indirectly supporting job growth. The freeze on domestic
discretionary spending, which includes HUD programs, that the President has
proposed, is bad social policy and bad economic policy.
I too am worried about the huge national debt. But relying on the
domestic discretionary cuts places the burden of deficit reduction on those
Americans who can least afford it and who are suffering the worst effects of
the recession. More needs to be asked of those who have the most. The President
is right to expect wealthy Americans to pay more taxes.
More information about the National Housing Trust Fund is available at: www.nhtf.org
The National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to ending America’s affordable housing crisis. Established in 1974 by Cushing N. Dolbeare, NLIHC educates, organizes and advocates to ensure decent, affordable housing within healthy neighborhoods for everyone. NLIHC provides up-to-date information, formulates policy and educates the public on housing needs and the strategies for solutions.