In Wake of Budget Agreement, Advocates Call on Congress to Address Housing Affordability Crisis
Point to HUD programs providing relief as housing costs outpace wages
WASHINGTON, D.C. – November 2, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Federal budget negotiators have reached a deal which passed yesterday in the House of Representatives with a vote to follow in the U.S. Senate. New Jersey housing advocates are calling on the Senate to vote in favor of the budget which would increase sequestration caps and urge full funding for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s budget to address the nation’s housing affordability crisis.
“Sequestration caps have been damaging to New Jersey families who have been struggling to make ends meet,” said Staci Berger, president and chief executive officer of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey (the Network). “We are asking Congress to vote in favor of the budget which lifts those caps and urge them to make investments that expand affordable home opportunities for countless Americans who find themselves falling deeper behind on the rent or mortgage.”
The agreement would increase sequester caps by approximately $33 billion for non-defense discretionary programs like housing, for a total cap of $526 billion. After passage of the budget agreement in both legislative chambers, appropriators will then divide the funds between the twelve appropriations bills which includes the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) bill. Housing advocates say meager wage growth, rising rents and climbing home values are putting a squeeze on the housing market that Congress can alleviate by making THUD a priority.
“The state of our economy depends on the consumer’s ability to spend and people don’t spend when they can’t afford housing costs,” said Berger.
Housing advocates point to two programs in particular that they say appropriators should prioritize, the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) and Housing Choice Vouchers. According to the HOME Coalition, since 1992, HOME has invested $26.3 billion to help build and preserve nearly 1.2 million affordable homes and provide direct rental assistance to more than 270,000 families. In New Jersey, $679.6 million in HOME funds have leveraged $3.7 billion in investments, generating $2.04 billion in local income. Every $1 of HOME leverages more than $4 in additional investments.
“HOME has had such a positive ripple effect on the economy that not investing in the program would be negligent,” said Berger. “We’d also like to see Congress renew this year’s rental vouchers and also restore the thousands lost due to sequestration. The economic health of our country relies on Congress making investments that create opportunities for our hard-working families, seniors, and individuals living with special needs.”
To learn more about HOME, visit www.ncsha.org/homecoalition. For more on the Housing Choice Voucher program, visit www.cbpp.org/topics/housing.
About the Housing and Community Development Network of NJ
The Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey is the statewide association of more than 250 community development corporations, individuals and other organizations that support the creation of affordable homes, economic opportunities, and strong communities. For more information on the Network, visit www.hcdnnj.org.
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