On Monday the President released his proposed budget for FY 2013. The budget includes some positive elements for homeless programs, but there are also important proposed cuts that need to be reversed to ensure that communities continue to have the capacity to create supportive housing and make progress toward ending homelessness. At CSH, we fear that pieces of the proposed budget may widen holes in the safety net for the most vulnerable Americans.
One of the Administration’s hallmarks has been a concerted effort to end homelessness. They’ve clearly demonstrated that they understand the cost of homelessness when we fail to solve the problem: homeless people wind up accessing far costlier emergency systems such as hospitals, jails and other institutions. This proposed budget reflects that in many ways—including $2.231 billion for the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance programs, a 17% increase, and the inclusion of $75 million for 10,000 additional HUD-VASH vouchers. We also applaud the Administration’s proposal to add flexibility and enable Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) to “sponsor-based” assistance for homeless families. This flexibility will enable PHAs to do more supportive housing, and align vouchers and services to better serve homeless families. The budget also adds enough VA funds to stay on target and end homelessness among Veterans by 2015. In addition to VASH, the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program is recommended to be tripled to $300 million, and there is language to encourage programs to allow Grant and Per Diem recipients to transition in place to permanent housing.
Unfortunately, there are also many programs important to supportive housing with proposed level funding or even cuts. For example, the budget maintains last year’s 40% cut to the HOME program, and it cuts Section 811—Housing Program for Persons with Disabilities—by 9%. HOME provides key gap funding for supportive housing and the 811 program provides much-needed funding for people with disabilities.
Typically, Congress will debate the President’s budget proposal through the spring and summer with the final appropriations bill passing in November or December. However, the politics of this election year are expected to further complicate how the budget and appropriations process moves forward. In the coming weeks, watch for action alerts from CSH to ensure, preserve and grow our efforts to end homelessness in America.
Here are some of the highlights from the President’s Budget Proposal:
Key Proposed Increases and Policy Improvements
- McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Program is proposed to be increased by 17% to $2.231 billion. This would help HUD implement key elements of the HEARTH Act.
- The Veterans Administration Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers would receive $75 million in new funding, providing an additional 10,000 vouchers.
- Section 202 Housing Program for the Elderly is proposed to receive $475 million. That’s $100 million more than last year and a 27% increase from FY 2012.
- The President’s budget includes specific language that would enable PHAs to “sponsor-base” some vouchers, allowing nonprofit organizations that provide family supportive services to receive voucher funding on a competitive basis.
- Requests $1 billion to capitalize the National Housing Trust Fund.
- Section 8 Tenant Based Rental Assistance Programs would receive $19 billion, a 1% increase; and would provide additional funding for administrative fees.
Key Proposed Program Cuts or Level Funding
- The President’s past budgets (FY 2011 and FY 2012) proposed combining HUD housing vouchers with SAMHSA services funding and Medicaid. This was NOT included in the FY 2013 request.
- Section 8 Project Based Rental Assistance Programs would be cut by 7.7%, but HUD indicates this reduction will not reduce the number of households served.
- HOPWA would be cut by approximately $2 million.
- HOME program level funded from FY 2012 at $1 billion. This was a 40% cut from FY 2011.
- Requests $4.524 billion for the Public Housing Operating Fund and includes a proposal to allow PHA’s to raise minimum rents.
- The Community Development Block Grant is level funded from FY 2012 at $2.948 billion.
- Section 811 Housing Program for Persons with Disabilities is proposed to be cut by 9% to $150 million.
- SAMHSA Homeless Grant Programs and the projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) are both proposed to be level funded from FY 2012 at $75 million and $65 million respectively.
- The Administration allocates $1.5 billion for Community Health Centers (which includes Health Care for the Homeless Programs) in health reform funding BUT a $5 million decrease in discretionary funding. This continues a trend of cutting CHC discretionary funding over the last two years, which has totaled approximately $1 billion in discretionary cuts. When matched with the health reform cuts, there still is an overall increase but not enough to grow CHC/HCH capacity to accommodate health needs for vulnerable populations, especially once health reform is fully implemented.