Impacts of Sequestration in Washington State, and what YOU can do
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) at the White House, released a report late last week detailing the impact of the across the board cuts – referred to as sequestration – which are scheduled for January 2013. The report confirmed that affordable housing and important safety-net programs will be devastated by deep cuts when sequestration occurs.
Here are some of the cuts housing programs will be facing:
· Tenant-based rental assistance cut by $1.53 billion
· Project-based rental assistance cut by $772 million
· Public Housing Operating Funds cut by $235 million
· Public housing capital funds cut by $154 million
· HOME Investment Partnership program cut by $82 million
· Housing counseling assistance cut by $4 million
These cuts will be brutal to the individuals and families that depend on these programs. More than 185,000 households nationwide will lose their Section 8 vouchers, and 92,400 households will lose their project-based rental assistance. $156 million will be cut from Homeless Assistance Grants, resulting in 145,900 people remaining homeless instead of being helped.
Doug Rice, Senior Policy Analyst with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, estimated that in Washington State, sequestration will result in 4,100 families losing their Section 8 vouchers in 2013 – putting Washington at risk of a 20% increase in homelessness from cuts to that program alone. Some have suggested that other programs will take up the slack, but these cuts will be compounded by the cuts to every other program. Public Housing Authorities will be compromised from cuts to their operating and capital budgets, and other important housing programs like Community Development Block Grants, HOME and Homeless Assistance Grants will all be cut as well.
Sequestration will force $1.2 trillion in cuts through 2021. These cuts are on top of the $1 trillion in cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act’s caps on discretionary spending, which is on top of the $10.5 billion in cuts that Washington State has already cut from out of our state budget. With looming additional state and local budget cuts, and a federal House Republican budget proposal that would cut the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and other safety net programs by another 22% on top of the cuts we listed above - we say that the panic button must be pushed now. These cuts are real, and they’re coming unless we do something to prevent it.
So what can you do?
The first step is to read the Coalition on Human Need’s “SAVE for All” Letter HERE, and then to sign on HERE. The Housing Alliance has already endorsed. The deadline is today (the 19th) at midnight, so don’t delay!
Secondly, the Housing Alliance is collecting stories to educate elected officials that these budget numbers represent actual people and families. Please get involved. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Third, talk to your board about these looming cuts and ask them to join you in taking action and ask them to sign a resolution opposing these cuts. The Housing Alliance can work with you to mobilize your board and can provide sample resolution language. Please contact Sakara@wliha.org
Finally, Sign up for our action alerts and stand-by for an action alert on this and other important issues.
State and Federal Policy Associate
P.S. Please become a Housing Voter today. By signing this commitment to vote with affordable housing and homelessness issues in mind, you will help ensure that elected officials know that we care about where they stand on our issues and that we are watching how they vote.
*Data note: Doug’s estimates were based on the previous assumption that sequestration would result in an 8.4% across-the-board cut. The OMB projection has revised this to 8.2%, so Doug’s original assumptions are slightly off from the latest data, but generally correct. You can watch the video of Doug’s Learn at Lunch presentation on the budget and sequestration, as well as download the handouts, on our blog HERE.