Three months into federal government sequestration cuts, it’s all too easy to lose focus on the day-by-day impact. But it’s working its way through the system and affecting real people with real dire problems.
We’ve learned that cuts in federal funding for Section 8 housing will dramatically impact New York City. The city’s Housing Preservation and Development Department (HPD), Housing Authority (NYCHA) and the state Department of Homes and Community Renewal have cut about 5,000 housing vouchers already planned to be issued in the city. Think 5,000 families in or on the brink of homelessness that would have been assisted with permanent housing…who now won’t.
It may be psychologically less painful to think about because these are not families cut off from a housing subsidy they currently have, but the outcome is the same. “The real problem is,” HPD Commissioner Matthew Wambua said, “these are our neediest tenants, the ones who cannot even afford the units in our developments.” Wambua supplied some figures about HPD’s section 8 recipients: 32% are elderly and 44% disabled.
The cuts actually will cause pain to current participants, too. HPD plans to change the formula for many current recipients, increasing their share of the rent from $100 to as high as $400.
The crying shame is that we know permanent housing for homeless families, whether under Section 8, affordable housing, a rental subsidy or supportive housing, produce better results and save tax dollars. That’s something most academics, advocates and policymakers agree on.
It underscores the Care for the Homeless agenda to End Homelessness, which is built on the belief that modern-day homelessness was created through bad public policy choices, and better public policy can end homelessness as we know it.