President's Budget Not Sufficient to Fully Renew Rental Assistance
According to a recent report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), President Obama's fiscal year 2013 budget request for HUD is at least $1.7 billion below the amount needed to fully renew rental assistance provided this year under HUD's three major rental assistance programs for low-income households: the Housing Choice Voucher, public housing, and Section 8 project-based rental assistance programs.
The proposed renewal funding for Housing Choice Vouchers could be as much as $440 million below the amount needed to renew all vouchers in use in 2012, risking the loss of voucher assistance for as many as 55,000 low-income families. The budget's funding for public housing falls well short of the amounts needed to cover agencies' operating and new capital repair expenses in 2013, let alone to begin to address the large backlog of unaddressed capital needs. And the budget's Section 8 project-based rental assistance funding is inadequate to provide a full 12 months of funding for all contracts with private owners.
Moreover, according to the report, some of the policy changes that the budget proposes to help close these funding shortfalls are poorly designed or harmful to low-income families and should be rejected or modified. The most problematic of these would set a mandatory minimum rent of $75 for all HUD-assisted households. Half a million of the very poorest recipients of housing assistance would face rent increases that they would have difficulty affording; for the vast majority of these households, rents would increase by 50 percent or more. The report recommends that Congress increase renewal funding and modify or reject several of the HUD budget's cost-saving proposals.