Sequestration Threatens Cuts to Programs Serving the Homeless

CSH was one of nearly 3,000 organizations from every part of the country to sign a letter that was sent to all members of Congress urging the members to reexamine sequestration because of its harmful impact on non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs.  While several programs such as TANF, Medicaid, Medicare, and food stamps are excluded from sequestration, many key programs serving supportive housing residents and people experiencing homelessness are in jeopardy.

What is sequestration?
Last summer the Administration and Congress debated if the country should increase the debt ceiling in order to pay its existing debts to other countries. Eventually there was an agreement that included as its main component the Budget Control Act of 2011 which would help bring down the deficit but, without Congressional action, set in motion a process that could negatively and disproportionately cut funding to NDD programs.

What would sequestration mean to NDD programs? 
If sequestration goes into effect starting this upcoming January between 2010 and 2021 NDD programs would be faced with a 20% cut.  More immediately come next January NDD programs would see an 8.4% reduction, followed by an 8.4% reduction the following year. The impact on homelessness prevention programs could be very harmful.  According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness,  this could be the impact come January:

•  There would be close to a $160 million cut in McKinney Vento homeless assistance grants, which would result in an estimated 145,906 people who would have been served but are now at risk of being homeless.

•  Almost a $1.6 billion cut in the Section 8 program, which would result in an estimated 186,915 fewer vouchers.

•  $5.5 million cut to the HHS Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) program, which could impact an estimated 17,247 people.

•  $2.7 million cut for the HHS Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) program, which could impact an estimated 11,587 people.

•   A $8.2 million cut to the HHS Runway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) Basic Center and Transitional Living Programs, which could result in an estimated 3,678 people who would have been served but are at risk of not being served with cuts in place.

Now is the time to take action and prevent cuts to homeless programs!
Please contact your representative in the House and your Senators and tell them the deficit shouldn’t be balanced on the back of the most vulnerable.  We have made too much progress in helping those who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless in recent years to go back.

Key talking points when  you do contact them:

•  There is a bipartisan consensus on the harm that these cuts will cause to programs that Americans hold dear including preventing and ending homelessness.

•  We advocate a balanced approach where the sacrifices can be spread out evenly as not to harm or target one area or type of funding in particular.

•  NDD programs make up only 3.4% of our nation’s GDP. That is at historically low standards, and a significant reduction of that will do great harm.  If sequestration is allowed to proceed without modifications it is estimated that the NDD share of the nation’s GDP will fall to 2.5% by 2021. NDD programs make up a comparatively low amount of the budget but would have to face most of the cuts.

•  Emphasize the number of people who would be impacted by such cuts.

•  Describe the good work that has been done to prevent and end homelessness throughout the country that would now be at risk.

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