NLIHC Response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Amy Clark, (202) 662-1530 x227, amy@nlihc.org

NLIHC Response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address

WASHINGTON - In last night’s state of the union
address, President Obama called for investment in innovation, education and
infrastructure to spur job growth and sustain America’s leadership in the
world. He offered a five year freeze on domestic discretionary spending to
begin to bring down the federal deficit, but said that we must “make sure
that we’re not doing it on the backs of our most vulnerable
citizens.”

“I applaud the President’s
vision for the future, especially his emphasis on assuring our children have
the best possible education,” said NLIHC President Sheila Crowley.
“But children cannot make the most of what their schools have to offer if
their families lack safe and stable homes. I hope that the President intends to
include affordable housing in the list of infrastructure improvements and to
spare safety net housing programs from the spending freeze.”

Despite signs that the economy is
improving, the housing crisis that precipitated the recession continues. Not
only are people still losing their homes to foreclosure, the longstanding
shortage of rental homes  that the lowest income families can afford has grown
during the recession. Between 2007 and 2009, the shortage of rental units that
are both affordable and available for households with incomes at or
below 30% of the area median grew from 5.2 to 6 million.

Homelessness among families has grown
more than any other segment of the homeless population. The number of people
who doubled-up, that is, had to move in with family or friends, increased by
12% between 2008 and 2009. Children in poor families are more likely to change
schools during the school year, impeding academic success.

Directing more resources to solve the
housing problems of the lowest income families will create more jobs in
construction, which has a 20% rate of unemployment, over twice the overall rate
of 9.4%. We have an unprecedented opportunity to build and repurpose existing
vacant and underutilized housing with a hungry labor force and primed
industry. 

The National Housing Trust Fund is an
infrastructure program that will reduce the shortage of affordable rental
homes, create thousands of jobs, and bring immediate gains to national, state
and local economies.  And it is possible to do so without adding to the
deficit.

One of the most expensive and
inefficient federal expenditures is the mortgage interest deduction, which the
President’s Fiscal Commission proposed to reform. Changing it from a tax
deduction to a tax credit and lowering the size of mortgage to which the credit
can be applied as the commission proposed would save tens of billions of
dollars a year, which could be redirected to capitalize the National Housing
Trust Fund and expand housing assistance for the most vulnerable families.

“On behalf of the National Low
Income Housing Coalition, I look forward to working with the Obama
Administration and Congress to strengthen our economy, protect our most
vulnerable citizens, and create the conditions necessary for our children to
excel,” said Crowley.

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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.

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