Mapping the Sequester’s Impact on Low-Income Housing

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In April, Doug Rice, senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, released a paper that described some of the ways people would be affected by sequestration cuts to local housing agency budgets, including: up to 140,000 fewer low-income families receiving rental assistance vouchers, higher rent for people who can’t afford it, and a rise in homelessness.

“These kinds of cuts are really unprecedented,” said Rice, noting that this was just the third time in 39 years that Congress failed to sufficiently fund housing agencies so that they could renew all current vouchers.  “Here we are in 2013 looking at severe cuts in the number of families that receive assistance, even at a time when the number of families in need has been rising sharply.”

Rice said that most local housing agencies would likely “shelve” Section 8 rental assistance vouchers, meaning vouchers would no longer be reissued to families on waiting lists when current recipients leave the program.  He said that many people receiving new vouchers would have them rescinded as they searched for apartments.  Maintenance and inspection of units would be deferred, and affordable housing stock would be jeopardized.

All of this would occur despite the fact that there are waiting lists for vouchers in almost every community; half of the current households in the program include seniors or people with disabilities; and the average household income of a voucher recipient is just $12,500.  On top of that, only 1 in 4 eligible households actually receives a voucher or some other form of federal rental assistance.

A look at over sixty stories from across the country in the past few months reveals that Rice’s analysis was spot-on. Mouse over each location to read the headlines.

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  • Red Rush

    What needs to happen is people moving into those houses left abandoned or people trying to sell their houses could even rent them out instead of letting them just sit there, unused, till they sell which can take years. We, as a nation, need to stand together and help each other instead of using each other as foot stools

  • Sheila Short-Ritter

    You’re right, Red. If we could get people to work together then we wouldn’t have such a disgraceful amount of homeless people, including families with children. If we would start showing each other compassion, perhaps we wouldn’t have such a high crime rate especially in the cities where the homeless rate is soaring due to the cost of housing going exponentially higher with each passing year. I live in Denver where a decent three bedroom apartment is upwards of 1100 a month! The lowest I’ve found for a three bedroom is 700 and that complex is in a less than desirable area of town.

    What I find even more frustrating is the horrible way people with bad credit are treated. No one cares why your credit sucks, they just see the number and immediately shun you. Makes it impossible for people who have had a severe illness or hospitalization without insurance to get a house even if they can afford one.

  • Charlotte

    Any information on Alaska and Hawaii? I don’t see any on this map?

  • JW

    This entitlement program is like all the others. Fraud and abuse are rampant plus its a lifetime entitement, there are no time limits for this benefit. That right there is why this program is being cut. I fully support this program for seniors 62 1/2 and over and those who are handicapped, mental or physical. So if they make up such a large number than its time these agencies cut the vouchers for these welfare moms who do nothing but have kid after kid they can’t afford and they get everything handed to them by the government. The people at these agencies know who these people are that are milking the system. Its very simple, lets say a certain county has 2000 issued vouchers and they are forced to cut 5% which is 100 vouchers. Except the seniors and handicapped (lets put that at number at 70%) so that leaves only 30% of the total number in the pool for voucher cuts. Then you take the people who have been on the vouchers the longest and cut the first 100 from that list. That way people who have just received their vouchers have a chance to get on their feet and the people fleecing the system finally have to get off their butts and take care of themselves. The days of the lifetime entitlements are over, people need to plan for that and make proactive choices.

  • Anna

    Its a good thing the program does not need your support. :)

  • Carol

    You’re NUTS, and don’t know what you’re talking about. Qualifying for vouchers has to do with income, not seniority or how long you receive them, as recipients must requalify every year. I’m on Permanent & Total Disability, extremely low-income and most of my income goes for out-of-pocket uncovered medical expenses, so I’d be homeless without my voucher and am very grateful to have it, as I waited for YEARS to get it. Isn’t it bad enough that every time there’s a Social Security measly increase, the states steal it by reducing food stamps and increasing Medicaid spend-downs. Ridiculous!!

  • Jeff Foreman

    Great and important column from Greg Kaufman, as always. Sequestration will mean cutting 5,000 housing vouchers that otherwise would have been issued to needy New York City residents this year.

  • Anonymous

    According to statistics, Medicare fraud is about 8%-10%; SNAP fraud is less than 3%. That’s not too bad for programs that help so many people, and I’m willing to pay taxes so that the other 90% can receive medical care and the other 97% get the food they need.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t worry, my conservative friends tell me- the churches will feed, clothe and pay the medical bills.

  • Strong Boli

    100% Fraud rate actually. Not from the people who use it, but from the housing providers, who charge full premium rental prices for trashy apt and houses that are in need of bad repair, which on the free market would only get 50% of what they’re charging.

  • SupFool

    Whenever someone starts with a sweeping comment like yours it is clear that you are repeating information you have no personal experience with. You can’t ‘fleece” a system when the requirement is to be so poor you cannot afford basic housing at the cheapest non section 8 apartments. Basic food stamp programs fill in for falling wages – so I would hardly call that having everything handed to them . In fact I would more than bet if you traded places with someone who needed food stamps and section 8 housing you would be paralyzed with fear rather than doing a little dance over ‘fleecing’ the government.

  • Theresa Slusher

    there are actually protections in the regulations for charging rents higher than the market.

  • Anonymous

    There is NO finer example of compassionate conservatism than punishing the many innocent for the transgression of the few

  • Mary Dante

    look at the market rates then how average is a 650$ efficiency/one bedroom in Minneapolis? market rate average…few apts are affordable with the deregulations…

  • Anonymous

    Does “entitlement for oil companies” bother you at all?

  • Jo-Dee Collins

    another fox news watcher trying to weigh in on a thoughtful conversation but can only parrot what he hears… this is what happens when we tell children what to believe instead how to think in schools.. just a bunch of freaking parrots…

  • dorf

    SB – You really have no idea what you are talking about. Most slum lords are your precious private sector free market tax cheats who would love the government to get out of the housing business so they could charge even higher rents. Are you OK with poor and old folks living in cardboard boxes in front of your house?

  • Professor

    If you don’t want to support. as you put it, women having “kid after kid”, then make abortions and contraceptives free on demand. Instead, the dim-wited conservatives are trying to roll back these essential medical services with a view towards eliminating them. You can’t have it both ways.

  • windwisdom

    Rental assistance provided by HUD is strictly monitored, yearly inspections check that units are in good repair and rentals must be within the rate allowed by the housing agency. I don’t know where you think you got your information from but you’re talking through your a$$.

  • Jim Attwater

    There are many seniors and disabled people that this affects. Getting off their butt, as you put it is not an option…this affects them greatly. My niece is 47 yrs old and worked a good job all of the years she was possibly able, as a matter of fact she tried going back to work 3 times only to get laid off again because of her illnesses. She has kidney disease, which causes chronic gout. She is deformed hands, feet, elbows, knees, etc., as well as rheumatoid and degenerative disc disease severely affecting her L3, L4, & L5, sciatica and a neck that can barely move it back and forth. I agree that there are people abusing it, such as families having children without the means. Yes, change is needed with the structuring of the programs, but cuts are not an option. The government needs to regulate it so people with children are either looking for work, working or going to school, and should be given for only a certain length of time…this should be mandatory! This affects elderly, such as grandparents, elderly, disabled who actually cannot afford the cost of living…haha, have you seen the cost of living increase given each year in these? They are laughable and hardly make it easy for an elderly or disabled person to live. This hurts us greatly. How would you like to be severely disabled and not only worry about what your health will bring day to day, but also worry how you will pay for everything. I suggest you look at the statistics on the elderly and disabled before making such poor choices, that affect the most vulnerable in our society. Cuts are NOT acceptable, change within the system is. She has been waiting for almost two years now, just trying to get into one of these places so that she is able to pay all of her bills.