In mid-July Congress took steps related to HUD’s FY24 budget that, if they come to fruition, would damage the agency’s ability to help those most in need of assistance. For example, the House Appropriations Committee approved a HUD funding bill that would slash the HOME Program allocation by $1 billion (67 percent). The bill also would cut hundreds of millions from smaller HUD programs that finance housing for the elderly and people with disabilities and would eliminate the Choice Neighborhoods public housing redevelopment program.nnThe Senate bill would add $1.5 billion to FY23’s voucher funding totals and, further, would create a pilot program permitting up to eight Public Housing Authorities to use HAP funds to cover leasing expenses such as security and utility deposits.nnCongress is currently nearing the end of its August recess. During recess, Congressional leaders have continued discussions over fiscal year (FY) 2024 appropriations, including how to avoid a government shutdown when the new fiscal year begins on October 1.nnSenate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) have reportedly agreed that a short-term spending measure – known as a continuing resolution (CR) – will be necessary to keep the federal government funded until at least early December, giving members of Congress more time to reach a final agreement on an FY24 spending bill.nnWhat that bill will look like remains in question.n
The need is growing
nHUD recently updated its worst case need study. The 2023 report to Congress uses data from the 2021 American Housing Survey (AHS). Since 2019, worst case housing needs increased across demographic groups, household types, and regions throughout the United States.nnThe unmet need for decent, safe, and affordable rental housing continued to outpace income growth and the willingness of federal, state, and local governments to supply housing assistance and facilitate affordable housing production.nnAt this point, the number of very low-income families with worst case housing needs in 2021 exceeded previous record levels resulting from the Great Recession of 2007–2009.nnIn 2021 there were 8.53 million households with worst case needs (these are households earning 50 percent of median income or less, receiving no rental subsidy and who are paying more than 50 percent of their income for rent). This is the highest number of families ever recorded. The 2019 figure was 7.7 million families. HUD found that the population of very low- income households increased by 950,000 households while the rental units affordable and available to them decreased by 463,000.nnExtremely low- income households (earning 30 percent if median income or less) also increased – 571,000 while available units decreased by 252,000. Tighter supplies have resulted in increased rents at a rate much higher than the increase in incomes between 2019 and 2021. Median renter housing costs went up by 10.6 percent, substantially more than the 2.5 percent increase in median renter income.n
Some good news
HUD notice PIH-2023 outlines how HUD will award 4,000 incremental vouchers that were funded in the FY23 appropriations bill. The upshot is that PHAs that receive these vouchers will prioritize them for use by the homeless, those at risk of being homeless, or domestic violence victims.