For Immediate Release
House Rural Spending Bill Would Strand Extremely Low Income Families
WASHINGTON - A rural appropriations bill passed in the House of Representatives today by a vote of 217 to 203 would result in severe hardship for low income people in rural America. This bill, H.R. 2112, the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food & Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriation Act of 2012, would cut funding to three crucial housing assistance programs.
The bill would cut funding for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Section 521 Rental Assistance Program, which provides subsidies to extremely low income rural residents. This proposed reduction in funds would take rental assistance away from more than 66,000 currently assisted tenants, the majority of whom are elderly or disabled.
“No matter what difficulties our policymakers face in creating a balanced budget, they must not do it by sacrificing the wellbeing and dignity of extremely low income people in rural communities,” said Sheila Crowley, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “Instead of gutting affordable housing programs, House leaders must consider reforms to the tax system and entitlements to balance the budget.”
The bill would also cut funding for the development of rural affordable rental housing through the USDA’s 515 Rural Rental Housing Program and the 514/516 Farm Labor Housing Program. The 521 program provides rental assistance to the USDA’s low income housing development programs so that households with the greatest need can be assisted.
There are some bright spots in this otherwise bleak bill. H.R. 2112 would increase funding for Section 502 loans and grants over the level of the Administration’s FY12 budget request. Section 502 helps low income people purchase homes in rural areas. Section 523, which provides grants to low income households who participate in the construction of their own homes and was not funded in FY11, would be funded at $22 million in H.R. 2112.
Low income housing advocates say they hope to work with the Senate to craft a bill that better reflects the nation’s priorities and can meet the need for affordable rental housing in rural communities.
Cuts to USDA Rural Housing Programs include:
· Section 521 Rental Assistance Program would be cut to $890 million for FY12, a cut of $65.6 million (7%) from the previous year’s funding level of $955.6 million.
· Section 515 Rural Rental Housing Program would be cut by $10.6 million, a 16% cut.
· Section 514/516 Farm Labor Housing Program would be cut by $7.2 million, a 36.5% cut.
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.