Underfunding of Critical Housing Assistance for Low Income Families

Statement by Housing Action Illinois Commending Representative Mike Quigley’s Vote Against Legislation Underfunding Critical Housing Assistance to Low-Income Families

Representative Mike Quigley, from Illinois’ 5th Congressional District, who is on the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, today voted against the 2015 Transportation-HUD funding bill, although the bill was ultimately approved. This bill will set funding for important low-income housing programs at extremely inadequate levels in 2015.

“We commend Representative Quigley for his vote against legislation that would deeply underfund critical federal rental assistance programs for extremely low-income families,” said Bob Palmer, Policy Director for Housing Action Illinois.

Some of the ways the House budget falls far short in terms of maintaining existing resources, include:

  • Providing too little money to renew all of the Housing Choice Vouchers that low-income families currently in use unless local housing agencies freeze the dollar value of vouchers despite rising rents in many markets, including much of the Chicago metropolitan area. At the end of 2013, it’s estimated that there were 78,509 vouchers in use in Illinois. Of the households with a voucher, 87% include a child, an elderly person and/or a person with a disability.
  • Worsening the historic underfunding of public housing, cutting funding by $290 million below the inflation-adjusted 2014 level, not giving public housing authorities enough money to operate the housing and increasing the backlog of needed repairs and improvements. In Illinois, there were 51,146 existing public housing units at the end of 2012. Almost half, 48%, of public housing residents are elderly, 25% are families with children and 17% are people with disabilities.
  • Flat funding homeless assistance grants at $2.1 billion, which will not provide enough funding to renew all existing transitional and permanent supportive housing projects, nor provide funding for any new housing units. In FY 12, Illinois received $103 million in funding to support 425 housing projects, as well as grants for homeless prevention and rapid rehousing.

“Many of these same families have already been impacted by the loss of thousands of low-income housing vouchers due to sequestration in 2013. The loss of these vouchers, combined with the deep cuts in House budget passed today, moves us backwards in our efforts to end homelessness,” said Palmer

In Illinois there are only 28 rental homes both affordable and available for every 100 renter households considered extremely low-income. With very few affordable units available to them, 3 out of 4 extremely low-income renter households end up spending more than half of their limited income on rent and utility costs. It is the most vulnerable populations who are disproportionately represented among extremely low-income renters. Households who are elderly, have a family member with a disability, include minorities or are female-headed have a greater likelihood of having extremely low incomes than others. Low-income veterans also face severe housing cost burdens.

Housing Action Illinois is a statewide coalition formed to protect and expand the availability of quality, affordable housing throughout Illinois. Their member organizations include homeless service providers, housing counseling agencies, and developers of affordable housing.

Housing Action Illinois
11 E. Adams #1601
Chicago, IL 60603

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