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Fiscal cliff, sequestration threaten the nation's poverty and subsidized housing programs
by Lynda Carson ( tenantsrule [at] yahoo.com )
Thursday Nov 8th, 2012 8:53 PM
The "fiscal cliff," which includes disastrous budget cuts that are scheduled to go into effect on January 2, 2013, resulting in an 8.2 percent across-the-board spending cut to the nation's discretionary nondefense programs, means that many federal programs affecting the working class, elderly, disabled and the poor will lose hundreds of billions of dollars in funding, during 2013.
Fiscal cliff, sequestration threaten the nation's poverty and subsidized housing programs

By Lynda Carson -- November 8, 2012

Berkeley, CA. -- The Berkeley Housing Authority administers approximately 1,939 subsidized rental-housing units through the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program and the Moderate Rehabilitation SRO program for low-income families in Berkeley, and unless the Obama Administration and Congress come up with a new plan to avoid what is being called the "fiscal cliff," which includes disastrous budget cuts that are scheduled to go into effect on January 2, 2013, resulting in an 8.2 percent across-the-board spending cut to the nation's discretionary nondefense programs, many federal programs affecting the working class, elderly, disabled and the poor will lose hundreds of billions of dollars in funding, during 2013.

This includes 8.2% in spending cuts to the nation's poverty programs and subsidized housing programs such as Public Housing and the Housing Choice Voucher Program (Formerly called the Section 8 Voucher Program), including the nation's homeless programs.

Subsidized voucher holders in the Housing Choice Voucher Program pay 30% to 40% of their income for rent, and the rest of the monthly rent is covered by the subsidized housing voucher from the federal Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program. The 8.2% in spending cuts threaten 200,000 voucher holders or more with eviction from their housing, if the automatic spending cuts go into effect on January 2, 2013, as is scheduled.

The so-called "Fiscal Cliff" is the combination of Bush-era tax cuts about to expire, and the catastrophic across-the-board spending cuts scheduled to kick in on January 2, 2013, to the nation's domestic programs and the Pentagon through a federal budget process that is called sequestration. Sequestration is a term that is used to describe the implementation of mandatory spending cuts in the federal budget, such as automatic across-the-board spending cuts that take place when annual budget deficits occur.

The results of sequestration is that it may result in $800 billion in spending cuts during 2013 according to estimates of the Congressional Budget Office, unless Congress and the White House take action to stop the automatic spending cuts scheduled to occur on January 2, 2013.

According to a Congressional Budget Office forecast predicting that if a new budget agreement is not reached, the automatic spending cuts would cause a new recession with 9.1 percent national unemployment, and a Congressional Research Service prediction of a loss of 1.4 million jobs occurring next year.


Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program Tenants Placed At Risk In The Bay Area, If Sequestration Budget Cuts Go Into Effect On January 2, 2013


Locally, as the Berkeley Housing Authority presently continues it's negotiations to privatize it's 75 public housing units in a deal to sell the public housing units to some out of state billionaires "Jorge M. Perez and Stephen M. Ross" of the Related Companies of California, LLC, and some of Berkeley's public housing tenants face pressure to trade in their public housing town-homes for federally subsidized Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, according to an October 9, 2012, Dear Colleague letter signed by Rep. Dick Norman, the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, he writes that if sequestration takes effect, it is estimated that 200,000 tenants would be evicted from their subsidized housing units across the nation. Furthermore, he writes that in some markets the income provided by Section 8 tenants (Housing Choice Voucher Program) wouldn't be replaced by new tenants, and that the landlords would lose their income as a result. Click on link for Dear Colleague letter: http://tinyurl.com/9q8m7cy

According to the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities (CLPHA), around 303,499 seniors rely on Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers for affordable housing, representing 16% of all Section 8 households and that Section 8 housing is home to 458,124 households with one or more family members that are disabled, representing 25% of all voucher households.

Additionally, 59% of Section 8 households are families with children (more than 2,357,977 children in total), with the average family income of $11,049 for the Section 8 households. Children living in Section 8 households represent 50% of all Section 8 residents according to CLPHA.

According to the nonprofit organization called the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, $17.37 billion would be required in 2012, to fully renew the 2,130,000 vouchers they estimated are being used by low-income families in 2011.

The Berkeley Housing Authority website states that they administer approximately 1,939 subsidized rental-housing units through the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program and the Moderate Rehabilitation SRO program, however according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) their records reveal that there are 1,866 Section 8 units in Berkeley.

In addition, according to HUD's records for parts of the Bay Area, there are 13,259 Section 8 units in Oakland, plus 8,611 Section 8 units in San Francisco, plus 1,845 Section 8 units in the City of Alameda, plus 6,097 Section 8 units being administered by the Housing Authority of Alameda County, plus 1,750 Section 8 units in Richmond, plus 2,290 Section 8 units in Vallejo, plus 6,763 Section 8 units being administered by the Contra Costa Housing Authority, and 2,145 Section 8 units administered by the Marin Housing Authority.

The 8.2% in spending cuts (sequestration) scheduled to kick in on January 2, 2013, will make it much more difficult for the nation's Public Housing Authorities to administer the Public Housing Program, and the nation's subsidized housing programs, including the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program.

Activists are urging all low-income families in the nation's federal subsidized housing programs to immediately contact their representatives, and to urge the Obama Administration and Congress to stop the automatic 8.2% across-the-board spending cuts scheduled to kick in on January 2, 2013, that will result in the eviction of 200,000 federally subsidized voucher holders in HUD's subsidized housing programs.

Additionally, Rep. Dick Norman, the panels ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, further states that cuts to the Homeless Assistant Grant account would result in approximately 100,000 more people on the streets if sequestration goes into effect. Click on link for Dear Colleague letter: http://tinyurl.com/9q8m7cy

Lynda Carson may be reached at tenantsrule [at] yahoo.com

§HUD estimates that more than 250,000 households would lose their vouchers --
by Posted by Lynda Carson Saturday Nov 10th, 2012 12:56 PM
OMB Estimates Sequestration Impact; House Attempts to Avert Sequestration

Click on link for full report below from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition: http://tinyurl.com/ac4zfqo


OMB Estimates Sequestration Impact; House Attempts to Avert Sequestration

The Obama administration submitted a report to Congress September 14 on the impact sequestration would have on federal programs. The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) requires the administration to sequester funds, which means making across-the-board cuts from discretionary funding to achieve a $1.2 trillion reduction in the deficit over a 10-year period. Sequestration is scheduled to begin in 2013. The Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012 required the administration to prepare this report for Congress within 30 days of its August 7 enactment (see Memo, 9/7). The delay in releasing the report, according to the administration, was due to the complexities of implementing sequestration.

The 400-page report prepared by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) includes a percentage cut and dollar figure for accounts subject to the sequester. The Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding (CHCDF) estimated that over two million people would be negatively impacted by sequestration of HUD programs, based on the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ (CBPP) 8.4% estimate for sequestration cuts (see Memo, 8/24). OMB estimates that most HUD and USDA Rural Housing Service programs would be cut by 8.2%, but estimates that a higher number of households would potentially be impacted by these cuts than does CBPP.

HUD estimates that more than 250,000 households would lose their vouchers, leaving nearly one million people who are currently stably housed without assistance and at risk of homelessness. More than half of these households include people who are elderly or have disabilities. HUD also estimates that 100,000 households housed through Homeless Assistance Grants would no longer have homes. This would include 1,500 veterans and their families. Additionally, 80,000 homeowners would not receive housing counseling services. HUD estimates that sequestration cuts to the department would cause the loss of 53,000 jobs.

The Administration and advocates alike continue to urge Congress to avoid sequestration. Advocates are urging Members of Congress to craft a deficit reduction plan that includes a balanced approach to spending and revenue in order to protect low income households served by government funded programs. The Coalition on Human Needs (CHN) is circulating a sign-on letter urging the protection of low income and vulnerable people. The letter currently has over 1,200 organizational signers. NLIHC sent a call to action urging local, state and national organizations to sign onto this letter by September 19.

In a press release, National Low Income Housing Coalition President and CEO Sheila Crowley stated, “The OMB report is conclusive proof that sequestration will rob low income people of already scarce housing resources at a time when our economy and communities can least afford to lose them. We urge Members of Congress to work together to instead seek a balanced solution that will raise revenue and protect the most vulnerable Americans.”

Some in Congress support a sequestration alternative that would protect defense spending at the expense of spending on housing and other social supports. On September 10, Representative Allen West (R-FL) introduced a bill to eliminate the sequester and replace it with an unbalanced alternative. H.R, 6365, the National Security and Job Protection Act, would lessen the cuts to defense spending while deepening those to non-defense discretionary spending.

OMB issued a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) on H.R. 6365 on September 12. “The bill’s unbalanced approach breaks the agreement reached in the bipartisan BCA and fails the test of fairness and shared responsibility,” writes the administration. Mr. West’s bill passed the House on September 13 by a vote of 223 to 196.

Click on link from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition to click on other links to view the OMB report, the NLIHC press release, HR 6365, SAP, the NLIHC Call To Action, and the CHN Letter: Click on this link: http://tinyurl.com/ac4zfqo


View the OMB report.

View the NLIHC press release.

View H.R. 6365.

View the SAP.

View the NLIHC call to action.

View the CHN letter.