We have been working with our partners in the field to advocate the need to reverse sequestration in the ongoing Congressional budget debate. The Budget Conference Committee is currently meeting to come to an agreement on how federal programs, such as HUD's homeless assistance and Housing Choice Voucher, will be funded from January - September in 2014 and finding a way to end sequestration. It is unlikely that a sweeping budget agreement will be reached, however, looming deadlines in January and February means something must get done.
The Conference Committee is working towards a deadline of December 13 to present a budget compromise package. Now is the time to reach out to the members of the Committee (see list below) and your Congressmen and Senators to share the stories below and what's happening in your community as a result of sequestration.
Below are a few real life examples of the direct impact sequestration has had on Public Housing Authorities, housing development and homeless individuals and families.
If you have any stories that you would like to share, please reach out to Steve Clayton, CSH's Field Mobilizer.
Testa Companies which is an affordable housing developer was planning on building a 48 unit project in the economically depressed area of Lima, Ohio. Of those 48 units, 24 were planned to be project-based housing vouchers, and the other 24 would be shelter plus care. Because of sequestration, the Allen Metropolitan Housing Authority could not count on receiving 48 vouchers so they had to scale back the development to what they knew they could count on, which was half of the original plan. Testa is now downgrading the project to include only 24 units with alternate sources of financing. The individuals and families who would have used the project-based housing vouchers are now homeless and because of sequestration they will have one less resource available to them.
Virginia Supportive Housing operates a 47 unit permanent supportive housing site in Richmond Virginia that uses tenant based housing choice vouchers administered through the Virginia Housing Development Authority. Due to sequestration, VHDA was not able to replace those vouchers as units turned over, resulting in 8 vacant apartments in the building. The current waiting list is comprised of approximately 100 eligible homeless individuals.
$150,000 was cut from the Emergency Shelter Grants via sequestration, which translated into 50 fewer families from being able to be serviced through rapid re-housing. Additionally, homeless programs funded by CDBG have been cut 40%, and the City is bracing for a $300,000 cut in McKinney Vento homeless programs.
Budget Conference Committee Members:
Co-Chair Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.)
Sens. Ron Wyden (Ore.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Bernie Sander (I-Vt.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Mark Warner (Va.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Chris Coons (Del.), Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Tim Kaine (Va.) and Angus King (I-Maine) Jeff Sessions (Ala.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Pat Toomey (Pa.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) and Roger Wicker (Miss.)
Co-Chair Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)
Reps. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), Tom Price (R-Ga.), Diane Black (R-Tenn.),Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), James Clyburn (D-S.C.), and Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.)
You can find their contact info at www.house.gov or www.senate.gov