Although the federal budget year begins on October 1, Congress has yet to enact a budget for FY 2011, and the country is currently operating under a temporary budget which will expire on March 4. This past week the House Budget Committee led by the Republican majority took its first step in creating a formal budget by announcing how much money they plan to spend this fiscal year. The committee allocated $420 billion for non-security spending, which is $41 billion below the amount required to maintain programs at the current level. When Congress creates the federal budget, they begin the process through 12 appropriation or budget sub-committees who each determine how money should be spent for specific programs. The sub-committee that determines spending for homeless and housing programs is called the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Sub-Committee (T-HUD). After the Housing Budget Committee released how much money will be spent, it is divided among the 12 sub-committees.
The T-HUD sub-committee received the most severe cut, which equals a 26.1% cut for the rest of this fiscal year. This cut could be spread across programs under T-HUD unevenly; meaning transportation could be cut more than housing. However, there is no sense how the sub-committee will allocate the money. It is important to note that these funding levels would have to be passed by the Senate which holds a slim Democratic majority before they could take affect. Nevertheless, there is a strong possibility that public housing and Section 8 programs could receive deep cuts, taking away housing from low-income households in Massachusetts.
If you have the time please call your Representative and Senators in Congress and ask them to protect Section 8 and public housing and fund McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants at $2.2 million. You can find your Rep. by going to wheredoivotema.com and looking for “Congressional.” Our Senators can be reached at (202) 224-2742 (Sen. Kerry) and (202) 224-4543 (Sen. Brown).
To read the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report click here.