CSH has been working with our partners nationally and in the field to reverse budget caps and cuts imposed by our federal leaders through a process called sequestration (forced confiscation of funds).
Although Congress is on summer break, focus continues on sequestration's damage and how federal programs, such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development's homelessness assistance and Housing Choice Vouchers, will be funded in the new budget.
Since our elected representatives are currently in their home districts sounding out constituents, now is the time to reach out to your Congresspersons and U.S. Senators to share your concerns about caps and cuts, and how they are hurting vulnerable, fragile people in your community.
As you will read below, sequestration has real consequences for supportive housing and people who are struggling through homelessness.
A few years ago, Testa Companies, a developer of affordable residential housing, was planning to build a 48-unit project in an economically depressed area of Lima. Of those 48 units, 24 were planned to be supported by Project-based Housing Choice Vouchers and the others would be covered by Shelter Plus Care (both are federally-funded programs). But when sequestration took hold, Testa could not count on receiving the Housing Choice Vouchers so the development was scaled back by half. Those who should have used the Vouchers to find a home remained homeless, their American Dream robbed by sequestration.
Tenants in the Virginia Supportive Housing (VSH) 47-unit site in Richmond rely on Housing Choice Vouchers administered by the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) to make their rent payments. Due to sequestration and the lack of federal help, VHDA was unable to offer additional Vouchers to lower-income applicants desperately in need of rental assistance. As a result, none of the 100 impoverished and homeless individuals on the waiting list for Vouchers could access any of 8 VSH supportive housing apartments vacated due to turnovers.
In addition to supportive housing, many vital initiatives designed to mitigate the sting of homelessness have suffered because of sequestration's forced caps. For example, $150,000 was cut from Emergency Shelter Grants for Memphis, which meant 50 fewer families there could leave the streets for shelter. Additionally, homelessness assistance programs funded by Community Development Block Grants were cut 40 percent, and the City had to absorb another $300,000 cut on top of it. Without adequate resources from federal programs, Memphis faced the no-win choice of turning those in homelessness away from help or taxing local budgets to fill the gaps.
Want to share your story about caps hurting you or your community? Send it to us and we'll make sure Congress hears your voice.