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There is a national shortage of 7.4 million homes affordable and available to the lowest income people in this country, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. (Photo: Tim Evanson/cc/flickr)

There is a national shortage of 7.4 million homes affordable and available to the lowest income people in this country, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. (Photo: Tim Evanson/cc/flickr)

Trump's Budget Draft Takes Axe to Low Income Housing Funds

Declaring the budget proposal 'unconscionable and unacceptable,' housing advocate warns that 'draconian cuts could cause homelessness'

Lauren McCauley

Should the Trump administration's plan to slash 14 percent from the national housing budget come to fruition, people will indeed be "dying on the street," the head of national advocacy group warned on Thursday, borrowing President Donald Trump's own words.

Late Wednesday, the Washington Post published an analysis of the draft budget for fiscal year 2018, which included more than $6 billion in cuts at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The preliminary budget documents, said to be a proposal put forth by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), now run by fiscal hawk Mick Mulvaney, outlines a plan to shrink the $47 billion dollar agency to $40.5 billion in 2018, which the Post notes would move Trump closer to his goal of slashing "domestic spending by $54 billion to bolster the defense budget."

According to reporter Jose A. DelReal:

Budgets for public housing authorities—city and state agencies that provide subsidized housing and vouchers to local residents—would be among the hardest hit. Under the preliminary budget, those operational funds would be reduced by $600 million, or 13 percent. Funds for big-ticket repairs at public housing facilities would be cut by an additional $1.3 billion, about 32 percent. That could have a major quality-of-life effects on the low-income families who rely on public housing: Tens of billions of dollars in backlogged repairs already plague the country's 1.2 million public housing units, according to a 2010 HUD report.

The proposal would also reshape the federal government's involvement in local community development, potentially eliminating a decades-old program that funnels federal dollars into programs that combat poverty and urban decline, and fund other local improvement efforts.

Further: "Under the proposal, direct rental assistance payment—including Section 8 Housing and housing vouchers for homeless veterans—would be cut by at least $300 million, to $19.3 billion. Additionally, housing for the elderly—known as the Section 202 program—would be cut by $42 million, nearly 10 percent. Section 811 housing for people with disabilities would be cut by $29 million, nearly 20 percent. Money available for Native American housing block grants would fall by $150 million, more than 20 percent."

Outlining how the proposal would impact a nation already facing a drastic affordable housing shortage, National Low Income Housing Coalition president and CEO Diane Yentel issued a statement Thursday declaring the cuts "unconscionable and unacceptable."

She said:

There is a national shortage of 7.4 million homes affordable and available to the lowest income people in this country. Today, just one in four low income people in need of assistance, including seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, and veterans, get the help that they need.

In light these considerations, these suggested cuts are unconscionable and unacceptable.

These draconian cuts could cause homelessness. The proposed cuts would devastate critical programs that keep roofs over the heads of some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. They are in direct contrast to Mr. Trump's promises to revitalize distressed communities and ensure that "nobody's going to be dying on the street" from homelessness. 

Others similarly used the president's own words and promises to blast the draft budget:

In an effort to placate fears about the proposed cuts, the agency's recently-confirmed head, Dr. Ben Carson, who himself has derided public assistance programs, issued a statement to HUD employees:

But if HUD staff soon find themselves 'unsupported,' they will not be alone as the Trump administration is planning to take an ax to domestic spending in order to shift funds to the military and elsewhere.

On Wednesday it was reported that as much as two-thirds (or $1.4 billion) could be slashed from the budget of the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

And the New York Times, quoting a person familiar with the draft budget request, said Thursday that "the Trump administration is considering deep cuts in the budgets of the Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency as it looks for money to ratchet up security along the southern border."

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