President Donald Trump’s recently released Fiscal Year 2019 Budget proposal included major cuts to the Department of Housing. The budget would slash department funding by about $8.8 billion, or 18 percent of 2017’s enacted levels.
The administration will ask Housing and Urban Development-assisted households to “shoulder” more of their housing costs. The proposal also calls for the elimination of the federal community development block grant, which provides funds to communities to repair infrastructure, build affordable housing and create jobs. The administration said the grant fails to demonstrate a significant impact.
Ben Carson, secretary of the agency known as HUD, took to Twitter to support the proposed cuts, writing, “The proposed budget is focused on moving more people toward self-sufficiency through reforming rental assistance programs and moving aging public housing to more sustainable platforms.” In a statement, Carson added: “I am confident HUD will deliver on its core programs, assist our most vulnerable populations, and make significant enhancements to our programs where needed.”
Despite Carson’s confidence in HUD and the budget, housing and social safety net advocates expressed harsh criticisms about the president’s proposed budget.
“Despite the Admin’s purported interest in improving resident’s self-sufficiency, Sec Carson doesn’t propose increased $ for one HUD program designed to do just that – the Family Self Sufficiency program. Instead, expect rent hikes and work requirements,” Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, tweeted on Monday.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition also released a statement adding that such reforms proposed in the HUD budget plans “would leave even more low income people without a stable home, undermining their ability to live with dignity and climb the economic ladder to achieve financial security.”
Trump’s budget also proposed a $17.2 billion cut to the 2019 budget for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps. The progressive Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated that over the next decades, these cuts could amount to 4 million low-income individuals losing SNAP benefits.
“The Administration’s reforms require able-bodied individuals to shoulder more of their housing costs and provide an incentive to increase their earnings, while mitigating rent increases for the elderly and people with disabilities,” the proposed budget stated.
The budget also proposed cutting rental assistance funds by 11.2 percent “to address the increasing and unsustainable Federal costs of rental assistance.” Recipients of housing assistance are currently asked to devote 30 percent of their adjusted income towards housing costs and are typically considered “cost burdened” if 30 percent or more of their paycheck goes towards housing.
Budget details reveal plans to keep funding at consistent levels for housing assistance grants for Continuum of Care programs, which help fight homelessness on the local level. Nan Roman, president and CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, told Newsweek that “the money given every year has to go up just to break even with the rising cost of living.”
Trump’s FY2018 budget proposed similar deep cuts to the Housing Department.