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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Call your Members of Congress today Dec 3, and urge them to cancel sequestration and protect housing programs for low income households

as shared by Housing Action Illinois ...

Housing Action Illinois

Sequestration is bad public policy that is placing even further strain on tens of thousands of low income families across the country. Nondefense discretionary (NDD) programs—including most U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs—have absorbed a disproportionate share of sequestration-mandated funding cuts. These programs will be cut even deeper if Congress does not reach a budget agreement that cancels sequestration.

Today, Tuesday, December 3, please join a national call-in day to end sequestration for people who care about issues related to housing and homelessness. Call 866-898-2624 and tell your Members of Congress three critical things:
  • Sequestration has already harmed tens of thousands of low income Americans. The hardships they face will only grow worse unless sequestration is cancelled. States and local communities depend on HUD and USDA programs to meet dire housing needs. Sequestration has made it even harder for poor people to find and afford housing and threatens to cause more people to become homeless.
  • The Budget Committee conference members must come to an agreement that cancels sequestration before the December 13 deadline.
  • An agreement that cancels sequestration will allow Congress to pass FY14 spending bills, instead of another Continuing Resolution, which would avoid further cuts to HUD and USDA programs.
Please join others across the country tomorrow and call your Members of Congress. You can help prevent further cuts to housing programs! Join with us in advocating for an end to sequestration and ensuring that the Budget Conference Committee comes to agreement on an FY14 budget.
We particularly need calls to the offices of Senator Mark Kirk and Republican House members.

To participate, call 866-898-2624 TODAY!

Background Information

We must urge the conference committee to replace sequestration in order to protect HUD funding before the conference committee's December 13 deadline to issue a report to Congress. Coming to agreement on an FY 2014 budget that cancels sequestration will allow appropriators to pass individual funding bills instead of a continuing resolution (a long-term stopgap funding measure at FY 2013 funding levels), which would harm housing and community development programs.
Sequestration is bad policy that is exacerbating hardships for tens of thousands of low-income families. States and local communities rely on HUD and USDA resources to develop and preserve affordable housing, as well as to help more than 5 million low-income seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children to rent housing they can afford. Indiscriminate sequestration cuts are sharply reducing the number of low income families they assist, exacerbating the effects of poverty and increasing homelessness.

Any budget agreement that reduces sequestration for defense programs must also restore funding for nondefense discretionary programs, dollar for dollar. Since 2010, HUD and USDA programs have been cut severely, some by nearly 50%. Nondefense discretionary (NDD) programs—the category that includes most HUD and USDA housing and community development programs—have absorbed a disproportionate share of the spending cuts made by Congress since 2010. NDD programs—particularly those that assist the most vulnerable Americans––should not bear the brunt of deficit reduction efforts. Congress can prevent further nondefense discretionary spending cuts by including revenue in a budget agreement.
Key HUD programs like the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants will fare far better in an individual funding bill than a stopgap funding measure.  Congress failed to provide enough in FY 2013 to maintain local spending—meaning homelessness instead of housing for 111,000 Americans. For FY 2014, if the appropriation is the same as FY 2013, that impact will be repeated, and there will be additional local cuts. “Flat funding” would mean homelessness instead of housing for over a quarter of a million Americans compared to 2012, and an additional 32,000 even compared to 2013 after sequestration.

Another example of one program that sequestration is impacting is the Housing Choice Voucher Program.  Because of the sequestration cuts instituted on March 1 of this year, state and local housing agencies are facing substantial shortfalls in funding to renew the Housing Choice Vouchers that more than 2.1 million low-income households use to rent modest private-market housing at an affordable cost.  Many of the 2,300 state and local housing agencies that administer housing vouchers are reducing the number of families that receive assistance, by no longer reissuing vouchers when current families leave the program.  The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) estimates that 40,000 to 65,000 fewer low-income families will be using housing vouchers by December 2013, compared to a year earlier. Moreover, these cuts will deepen considerably in 2014 if sequestration continues and voucher program funding remains essentially flat.  Under that scenario, CBPP estimates that between 125,000 and 185,000 low-income families will lose assistance by the end of 2014 (again, compared to December 2012). 

Please contact bob@housingactionil.org with any questions, and to let us know feedback you receive.

Housing Action Illinois 
11 E. Adams #1601
Chicago, IL 60603

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