Veterans receive particular attention; Cuts to mainstream housing and service programs threaten to undercut impact
Washington, DC – September 3, 2012 – (RealEstateRama) — Today, President Obama unveiled his Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 budget. Despite the difficult budget environment, the President proposed significant increases in funding to several homelessness programs, maintaining the Administration and Congress’ focus on bringing down the number of homeless people nationally. While these increases will be much needed, belt tightening for housing, employment and other programs will impede progress toward the goal of ending homelessness.
Overall, the president proposed to allocate $2.231 billion to homeless assistance programs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); this is a 17 percent increase compared to the FY 2012. This increase will be needed to fulfill the Administration’s pledge to end homelessness, as outlined in Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to End Homelessness. The HUD homeless program has been successful in reducing homelessness using cost-efficient, data-based strategies.
Homeless veterans are also getting a boost in this year’s budget proposal. A total of $1.35 billion has been allocated to prevent and end veteran homelessness, an increase of $333 million compared to the FY 2012 level. This increase in funding is coupled with changes to emphasize permanent and rapid re-housing as well as access to supportive services over less effective methods to end homelessness. These changes will be critical to if the nation is to end homelessness among veterans.
In an effort to focus on employment, the FY 2013 budget also includes $12.5 billion for a new program called the Pathways Back to Work Fund. This program subsidizes jobs for low-income youth and low-income and long-term unemployed adults.
Despite the heartening increase to homeless assistance programs, the effects of the recession will likely require even more funding to prevent and end homelessness resulting from economic troubles. This will be especially true if the budget is subject to sequestration cuts or some other reduction in funding to address the federal deficit.
“This is an extraordinarily difficult budget year,” said Nan Roman, president of the National Alliance to End Homelessness. “We are, therefore, grateful that President Obama has demonstrated his commitment to stay the course on homelessness. We will continue to make the case for more and better efforts to end homelessness, including an increased focus on preventing homelessness through greater attention to the housing needs of millions of low income and vulnerable Americans.”