Housing leaders are warning that the U.S. Department Of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) shutdown of most operations could be disastrous to Section 8 and other rental assistance programs, according to a release from the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities.
“Public housing authorities, which are responsible for housing over three million low-income households nationwide, are doing everything they can to keep things running during this period of tremendous uncertainty, but it is unclear how long they can continue with business as usual for residents and landlords,” Council of Large Public Housing Authorities Executive Director Sunia Zaterman said in the release.
Shutdown unmitigated disaster for low-income families
“Without a guarantee from HUD that funding will be available in March, many PHAs will need to notify landlords and residents next month that delayed payments are a possibility. Anxious residents and landlords fearful of missed payments, combined with other cascading impacts due to lack of staffing at HUD, including program grants not being renewed and affordable housing development deals not being approved, amount to an unmitigated disaster for millions of low-income families,” Zaterman said.
Members of the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding (CHCDF) hosted a national call with over 2,200 registrants about the effects of the partial government shutdown on low-income people and communities and the affordable housing programs that serve them.
Experts from multiple affordable housing organizations shared information on the shutdown’s impact on federal affordable housing and community development programs and emphasized that the longer the shutdown continues, the more negatively it will impact people with the lowest incomes – seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children. Panelists spoke about the shutdown’s effects on public housing, project-based rental assistance, housing vouchers, rural housing, and housing and services for seniors, people with disabilities, the homeless, and those at risk of homelessness.
The panel encouraged listeners to contact their members of Congress and tell them to vote now—before residents in federally assisted housing experience rent hikes and evictions—to reopen the federal government and pass clean fiscal year 2019 spending bills.
700 property owners with HUD contracts and 70,000 renters at risk
“Nearly 700 property owners that have HUD contracts to operate housing affordable to the lowest-income seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children have seen those contracts expire due to the shutdown, and more will expire this month and next,” said National Low-Income Housing Coalition President and CEO Diane Yentel in the release.
“These contract suspensions put the homes of nearly 70,000 low-income renters at risk of serious rent hikes and evictions. HUD has asked owners of these properties to dip into their savings, if they have any, to cover the costs. Some will be able to do so, but not forever, and some have already communicated to their tenants that rent hikes are coming.
“The longer the shutdown goes on, the more untenable it will become for property owners to keep scraping by without their federal contracts – and the more the lowest-income renters will suffer,” she said.
HUD has not renewed 22 contracts for rental assistance
“HUD has made clear already, in December, [it has] not renewed 224 contracts for rental assistance in Section 202 Housing for the Elderly communities, and more are set to expire in January,” said LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith in the release. “LeadingAge’s members, all nonprofits, rely on regular and adequate funding to provide quality affordable housing to some of the nation’s lowest-income older adults.
“The average older adult in HUD’s Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program has an annual income of $13,300, an income far too little to make ends meet in any private housing market. More than 400,000 older adults rely on the Section 202 program, while another 1.2 million rely on other HUD programs for housing assistance. We urge Congress and the White House to end the shutdown so that . . . these 1.6 million older adults have the stable housing they need to age with dignity,” she said.
Private rental housing owners scrambling to cover costs
“Every day that it drags on, the needless government shutdown threatens more low-income seniors, people with disabilities, and seniors who rely on critically important federally assisted affordable housing,” said National Housing Trust Federal Policy Director Ellen Lurie Hoffman in the release.
“Private rental housing owners are scrambling to cover operating costs for which the federal government is contractually responsible, with no end in sight.”
Listen to the CHCDF national call on the impacts of the shutdown on affordable housing programs and community development at: https://bit.ly/2DersVM(link is external)
Read NLIHC’s latest update on the shutdown at: https://bit.ly/2AzHoju(link is external)
About the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities (CLPHA): The Council of Large Public Housing Authorities is a national non-profit organization that works to preserve and improve public and affordable housing through advocacy, research, policy analysis and public education.