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Mapping the Sequester's Impact on Low-Income Housing | The Nation

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Greg Kaufmann

Poverty in America: people, politics and policy.

Mapping the Sequester's Impact on Low-Income Housing


David Row, second from left, helps his 8-year-old son, Lestat, learn to ride a bicycle as a homeless man reads his book outside a homeless shelter in Los Angeles, Wednesday, September 14, 2011. Row was recently reunited with his son after getting a job at the shelter. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Cross-posted from my column at BillMoyers.com on the impact of sequestration.

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 thirty-nine 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 He said that many people receiving new vouchers would have them rescinded as they searched for apartments.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.

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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 one in four 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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