A client quote I heard yesterday:
“When I was homeless, I felt like an animal, stuck in a concrete jungle. I only came out to eat and survive. Now that I have housing, though, I feel like a human again. It feels good to be human.”
And here’s the client quote I posted last week:
“I haven’t been homeless my whole life, but I’ve always been a human being.”
Below is a letter sent to our Governor from Shaun Donovan, the Secretary of HUD, about how the sequestration cuts will affect most of the programs that our clients depend on for housing (and, of far lesser importance, what I depend on for my job). Ladies and gentlemen, your representatives!
(You can read the original letter at the Housing Alliance of PA.)
March 1, 2013
The Honorable Tom Corbett
Governor of Pennsylvania
200 North Third Street, 14th Floor
Harrisburg, PA l7101
Dear Governor Corbett:
As you are likely aware, due to the failure of Congress to pass legIslation on balanced deficit reduction to avoid sequestration, the President is required by law to issue imminently a sequestration order canceling approximately $85 billion in budgetary resources across the Federal Government for the remainder of the current federal fiscal year (FY). As a partner with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, you are entitled to timely and clear information about how these unfortunate budget cuts impact us, and, in tum, what it means for program beneficiaries in Pennsylvania.
At this time, HUD is taking every step possible to mitigate the effectn of these cuts. However, based on the Department’s initial analysis, it is likely that full-year FY 2013 formula program funding for state and local grantees under your jurisdiction will be lower than it was in FY 2012 due to the sequester, which will likely affect workforce and program planning for this year, and possibly beyond. You can expect reductions totaling approximately $37.5 million compared to FY 2012 levels for rental assistance provided through the Tenant Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) program; for homeless assistance and for affordable housing, community development, and special needs assistance provided through the HOME and Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) formula grant programs. The details of these estimated reductions are in the table at the end of this letter.
In testimony to Congress in January, I estimated some of the impacts sequestration would have on program participants. With respect to the programs described above, about 125,000 individuals and families nationwide, a majority of whom are elderly or persons with disabilities, could lose assistance provided through TBRA and be placed at risk of becoming homeless. Cuts to the HOPWA program could result in 7,300 fewer low-income households receiving permanent and short-term supportive housing assistance, including rent or utility assistance, while a sequester of HOME program funds will result in 2,100 fewer affordable housing units produced for low-income families. As you know, every dollar of HOME finding is leveraged with almost four dollars of other government or private investment in affordable housing and related purposes.
Sequestration cuts discussed above would also result in more than 1CO,OOO formerly homeless people being removed from their current housing or emergency shelter programs, putting them at substantial risk of becoming homeless. Ten percent of these people are veterans. A majority are veterans, families, or adults with disabilities. Sequestration would cut important programs offered by HUD’s Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control and related HUD programs addressing housing-related health hazards. As a result, more than 3,000 vulnerable children would not be protected from lead poisoning and other safety hazards in the home. Sequestration would result in 75,000 fewer households receiving foreclosure prevention, prepurchase, rental, or other counseling through HUD housing counseling grants. This counseling is crucial for middle class and other families who have been harmed by the housing crisis from which we are still recovering; are trying to prevent foreclosure; refinance their mortgages; avoid housing scams; and find quality, affordable housing. Sequestration will result in a cut of $2.5 billion from the funds just appropriated by Congress to help recover from Hurricane Sandy and other 2011-2013 disasters, funding that is still in the process of being allocated among states and communities. Just the funding that would be cut from the Community Development Block Grant disaster program could help make necessary repairs to thousands of homes and small businesses.
Once Congress has passed and the President has signed a full-year FY 2013 appropriation for HUD, the exact funding levels you and the other formula program grantees and homeless assistance providers in your state are to receive will be set, and individual FY 2013 program grant agreements will be sent to formula grantees. While all these reduction3 are unfortunate and will be damaging, the Department is doing everything within its power to protect HUD’s mission to the greatest extent possible. Accordingly, we are prepared to work closely with you to manage these reductions to the extent that we can. And should Congress take subsequent action that changes the level or nature ofthese reductions, we are committed to working closely with you to manage those changes.