Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees federal housing programs, urged her colleagues to meet the housing needs of the country’s most vulnerable populations during the federal appropriations process for fiscal year 2018. The Ranking Member proposed funding increases for a variety of federal housing programs, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants (McKinney-Vento), in four separate letters to Congressional appropriators.
Underscoring the urgent need to fight homelessness in this country, Waters asked her colleagues to not only fully fund existing McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants contracts in FY 2018, but also asked for an additional $5 billion in emergency spending for the program to address increases in homelessness across America’s major metropolitan areas.
“In the richest country in the world, it is simply unconscionable that 549,928 of our neighbors across the country are living without a place to call home,” Congresswoman Waters wrote in the letter. “Several communities have experienced such serious increases in their homeless populations that they have gone so far as to declare that homelessness has reached a state of emergency. The federal government must recognize the crisis at hand and support these communities in their efforts to aid the homeless.”
The full text of the McKinney-Vento letter can be found here.
In another letter, Waters and Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO), Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance, were joined by 60 colleagues in requesting more money for HUD housing programs that serve low-income families, seniors and persons with disabilities. This includes providing robust funding for public housing, the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) and Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) programs, and the Section 202 and Section 811 programs.
“Federal housing assistance is essential for providing safe, decent and affordable housing for our nation’s most vulnerable populations,” the Members wrote. “With 7.4 million extremely low-income Americans currently without access to affordable housing, it should be a top priority to provide robust funding for our nation’s rental assistance programs.”
Additionally, the Members highlighted their grave concerns regarding the funding cuts proposed by the Trump Administration, stating that the estimated $1.6 billion in cuts to HUD’s major rental assistance programs could cost at least 200,000 households their homes. “These proposed cuts would have a devastating impact on HUD’s ability to serve our nation’s most vulnerable households, and they run contrary to the statutory mission of HUD,” the lawmakers wrote.
To read the full letter, click here.
Reps. Waters and Cleaver also led a request, signed by 17 of their colleagues, for increased funding and programmatic changes to rural housing programs under the Department of Agriculture (USDA), including the Rural Development Voucher Program, Section 515 Rural Rental Housing Loans, and Section 514 Farm Labor Housing Loans, and the Multifamily Preservation & Revitalization Demonstration.
The changes to rural housing programs “will help protect vulnerable tenants by ensuring that vouchers and other resources are available, and invest in the preservation of aging Section 515 and 514 properties,” the lawmakers wrote.
The full text can be found here.
The Ranking Member also joined with three other Democratic Members in sending a letter to appropriators requesting targeted rental assistance for several rural California residents who may face steep rent increases and possibly displacement next year due to a loss of state funded rental subsidies. (Republican Members with constituents affected by this issue were invited to sign on but declined to do so).
The full text of the letter can be found here.
Lastly, Congresswoman Waters co-led a letter signed by 167 colleagues requesting robust funding – at least $3.3 billion – for HUD’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. The letter highlighted the program’s track record of success, including benefits to over 133 million low- and moderate-income individuals through public services. This request comes on the heels of the Trump Administration’s budget request to completely eliminate the CDBG program.
The full text of the letter can be found here.
The Ranking Member also supported a number of other funding requests for HUD programs, including the HOME Investment Partnerships program, the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, and American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian housing programs. Many of these programs are proposed to be eliminated in the Trump Administration budget request.