With the 2012 federal fiscal year approaching, drastic budget cuts are again expected. Recently, the U.S. Senate proposed budget cuts for the 2012 fiscal year that will have serious effects on thousands of families. The new budget will bring about the lowest funding level in a decade to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and it couldn’t come at a worse time for Virginia’s families.
Over the past 10 years in the United States, the number of families who pay more than half their income for housing or live in severely substandard housing has risen by 40 percent. The proposed budget cuts could make this worse. When families are spending a huge majority of their income on housing, they are unable to afford other necessities such as health insurance, transportation, clothing and nutritious food.
Families across America rely on HUD’s Housing Choice vouchers to work their way out of poverty. If passed, the budget will do away with funding provided for over 25,000 Housing Choice vouchers. Without these vouchers, many families will be unable to afford to keep their homes in neighborhoods of opportunity, and will be forced to move into neighborhoods that do not meet their needs. In addition, the new budget will underfund other public housing programs that many families depend on, especially in this economic slump. Without adequate funding for HUD’s programs, many families across the United States will be left without adequate resources to afford housing.
In Virginia, the budget cuts will have a drastic effect. Currently, more than 100,000 low-income Virginia families rely on programs set up by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to access affordable housing. Out of the Virginia families that rely on the government to afford housing, 90% of them are headed by individuals who are elderly, disabled, or have children. Program cuts, such as these, leave the most vulnerable members of our society at risk of losing their homes and becoming homeless.
Currently, over 42,000 Virginia families take advantage of housing choice vouchers. If the expected budget cuts are approved, many of these families will find themselves unable to renew these vouchers. A significant number of Virginia’s families will be forced to uproot their families and their lives to relocate in less adequate neighborhoods where they can afford the substandard housing available, thereby increasing the concentration of poverty in these areas. Increasing the concentration of poverty has been shown to increase crime rates in communities.
If Congress approves the current budget for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, it will have a distressing effect on countless Virginia families who are unable to afford the same housing that many of us take for granted. Call your Representative and tell them to protect funding provided to HUD!