81st Annual Meeting: June 21-24, 2013 in Las Vegas

SEQUESTER IMPACTS ON PUBLIC HOUSING PROGRAMS
AND THE SECTION 8 HOUSING CHOICE VOUCHER PROGRAM

WHEREAS, public housing provides safe, decent, publicly owned, and affordable housing to approximately 1.1 million families who cannot afford or will not be served by housing in the private market, nearly 60 percent have a head of household who is elderly, disabled, or both; and 40 percent are families with children; and

WHEREAS, public housing serves families with an average household income of approximately $13,000 and more than 70 percent of households living in public housing have incomes less than 30 percent of the area median income (AMI). By comparison, the median family income in the United States is $60,000; and

WHEREAS, sequestration will degrade the ability of PHAs to operate the public housing program; and

WHEREAS, with sequestration and the 0.2 percent across the board funding reduction, the proration level for public housing operating assistance will be 82 percent.  A proration of 82 percent will force housing authorities to significantly restructure their operations in an effort to remain viable; and

WHEREAS, a low funding level will result in thousands of public housing units at risk of being taken off line due to maintenance backlogs and the inability of housing authorities to afford utility expenses. Families living in these units will be placed at risk of losing assistance; and 

WHEREAS, as a result of the sequestration, housing authorities have begun to cut back their workforce, which will lead to increased response times for all activities, including addressing simple maintenance issues, turning around vacant units, and reviewing applications and making eligibility determinations; and

WHEREAS, the Capital Fund program is the only source of federal funding available to PHAs dedicated to addressing their properties’ modernization needs. The current housing crisis underscores the broad impact housing has on people’s lives; the importance to families and communities of quality, stable, affordable rental housing has never been more apparent; and

WHEREAS, the most recent capital needs study of the public housing stock, completed in 2010, estimated the backlog of unmet need at approximately $26 billion, or $23,365 per unit. Available funding is vastly insufficient—with appropriations at less than half the amount needed—to meet accruing needs of more than $4 billion per year. Under the strain of this backlog, and without financing tools commonly available to other forms of affordable housing, the public housing inventory loses an average of 10,000 units annually through demolitions or dispositions; and

WHEREAS, more than half of the Nation’s Public Housing stock was constructed prior to 1970 and now require significant rehabilitation work to ensure that they remain safe, decent, and sustainable housing.  Without substantial investment in the inventory through the Capital Fund program, the loss of affordable housing units due to obsolescence and disrepair will accelerate; and

WHERAS, the recent Worst Case Housing Needs report shows the number of renter households with worst case needs has increased 2.57 million since 2007 to 8.48 million households in 2011 – a 43.5 percent increase.  The significant increase underscores what has been the case since well before the recent recession, namely, that extremely low-income renters face the most severe housing shortage and cost burden of any Americans; and

WHEREAS, worst case needs are defined as renters with very low incomes (below half the median in their areas) who do not receive government housing assistance and who either paid more than half of their monthly incomes in rent, lived in substandard conditions, or both; and

WHEREAS, a leading cause of homelessness and worst-case housing needs is the lack of affordable housing available to the lowest-income households. For low-income families, public housing is essential to the prevention of homelessness; and

WHEREAS, the Housing Choice Voucher program is the federal government's largest program assisting 2.2 million economically vulnerable families, including elderly families, families with disabilities, formerly homeless veterans, and families with children to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market; and

WHEREAS, many families assisted by the Housing Choice Voucher program formerly experienced worst-case housing needs and without the benefit of this program would be at immediate risk of homelessness. Of the families currently receiving Housing Choice Voucher assistance, 78 percent are extremely low-income, with incomes at or below 30 percent of the area median income, 40 percent have a disabled head of household, and 18 percent are elderly families; and

WHEREAS, the Administration estimates that sequestration will impact housing voucher renewals, putting approximately 125,000 very low income families at risk of having their rental assistance terminated due to insufficient funding; and

WHEREAS, terminating families from the Housing Choice Voucher program also impacts the private sector landlords who participate in the program. The housing assistance payments landlords receive help them to meet mortgage payments, local tax obligations, utility expenses, and to maintain their properties in good physical condition; and 

WHEREAS, sequestration will degrade the ability of private market landlords to continue to participate in the Housing Choice Voucher program; and

WHEREAS, since sequester impacted families do not have the resources to make up the difference in rent, private market landlords will find their ability to meet their own financial responsibilities seriously compromised,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the United States Conference of Mayors urges Congress to provide adequate funding for public housing and housing voucher rental assistance programs to ensure the effects of sequestration and other budget cuts do not destroy the safety net of programs serving the most vulnerable of our citizens; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the United States Conference of Mayors urges the Administration to provide administrative and regulatory relief to  help housing authorities mitigate the harmful effects of sequestration and inadequate funding levels; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the United States Conference of Mayors urges Congress to enact federal rental assistance reform legislation since the savings and efficiencies it would create are urgently needed. The reform legislation, includes Section 8 rental assistance reform and expansion of the Moving to Work program, will help ease administrative burdens for housing authorities and owners, deliver fairer and more efficient assistance to low-income families, provide new tools to leverage private capital for affordable housing preservation and development and encourage self-sufficiency for low-income families.


RESOLUTION ADOPTED JUNE 2013