House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) unveiled legislation yesterday to raise the nation’s debt limit in exchange for enacting steep cuts to domestic programs, including HUD’s and USDA’s vital affordable housing and homelessness programs.
The Republican proposal seeks to balance the federal budget by slashing funding for programs that help households with the lowest incomes keep a roof over their heads. Yet across the nation, rents have skyrocketed, eviction filings have increased, homelessness is on the rise, and millions of America’s lowest-income renters are just one financial shock away from falling behind on rent and losing their homes. It is unacceptable to cut critically needed assistance to these households.
If enacted, the House Republican proposal would temporarily lift the debt limit in exchange for reducing fiscal year (FY) 2024 funding to FY22 levels and capping future spending increases at 1% annually for 10 years, as well as rescinding unspent COVID-19 relief funds and imposing rigid and ineffective work requirements on some anti-poverty programs, among other harmful provisions.
Capping FY24 spending at FY22 levels would result at minimum in a 23% reduction in funding for key housing and homelessness programs, depending on how cuts are designed. As HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge has outlined, such significant cuts to HUD funding could lead to mass evictions. Nearly 1 million households currently receiving assistance through HUD’s rental assistance programs could lose their assistance, posing a grave threat to their housing stability. Nearly 120,000 fewer people experiencing homelessness would be served.
Nationally, there is a shortage of 7.3 million homes affordable and available to households with the lowest incomes, and there is no state that has enough affordable housing to meet demand. To end America’s housing and homelessness crisis, Congress must increase – not cut – federal investments in long-term solutions to the country’s housing crisis. This should start with expanding rental assistance to every eligible household, preserving and expanding the supply of quality homes affordable to people with the lowest incomes, creating an emergency rental assistance program permanently available to households in need, and strengthening and enforcing robust renter protections.