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Rep. Waters Blasts Cuts to Housing Programs

May 21, 2014
Press Release
Following the House Appropriations Committee's approval of a measure to fund the nation's housing programs, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Ranking Member of the Financial Services Committee, blasted Republicans for undercutting important housing programs that protect our most vulnerable populations.

The legislation, known as the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations bill, slashes or provides insufficient funding for a number of the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) public and assisted housing programs. These include over $500 million in cuts to important rental assistance and anti-homelessness programs. The measure cuts HUD's Public Housing Program below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level, while funding HUD's Public Housing Capital Fund to its lowest level since the 1980s.

Waters released the following statement:

"Funding decisions are an excellent indicator of a party's priorities. Unfortunately, the Republican measure approved by the Appropriations Committee today makes clear that federal programs that help families, seniors, veterans and persons with disabilities age in place, live with dignity, and provide for themselves have no place on the Republican agenda.

This measure ignores the Department of Housing and Urban Development's recent report on the rising number of very low-income families who are paying more than half of their monthly income on rent and living in severely substandard housing. It abandons those in our country who need our support the most. And I believe it is unacceptable.

The bill stalls recent progress we have made toward the nation's goal of ending chronic, family, veteran and youth homelessness. It furthers the chronic underfunding of HUD's Public Housing Program—where half of the 1.2 million residents are seniors and people with disabilities. This means that deteriorating living conditions will persist and the nation will continue to permanently lose thousands of public housing units a year due to disrepair. It also cuts Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS, putting at risk the 60,000-plus households who rely on this program for housing and health stability.

We should not be attempting to rein in this country's spending problems at the expense of the well-being of millions of vulnerable Americans across the country. The answer to our nation's fiscal problems is not to slash our country's social safety net programs and harm those who need our support the most. Supporting programs that get individuals and families off the street and into safe and decent housing is not only the right thing to do, but it saves real taxpayer dollars in the long run."

In addition to the aforementioned cuts, the THUD legislation falls short in renewing the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, likely providing insufficient funding to renew all households who currently have vouchers – before even addressing the 40,000 vouchers lost due to sequestration. In addition, it flat funds homeless assistance grants which, given the inflation of fair market rents each year, needs to be funded at an increased level in order to maintain the same level of services for individuals and families across the country.  

The funding measure also includes deep cuts to the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program – the one program solely dedicated to housing persons with AIDS and HIV—the greatest unmet service need for people living with the disease.