While the federal government budget for 2018 is still a work in progress, some of the initial proposals call for a big reduction in the various benefit programs. While many may be impacted by cutbacks, one of those that may have the largest effect on the vulnerable population include HUD vouchers. As without this benefit millions of more Americans could even potentially go homeless.
There are a few different HUD programs that could be on the chopping blocks. They include housing choice vouchers (also called section 8), public housing, USDA subsidies, and also those rent programs that focus on the elderly ad/or disabled, such as section 202. In total about 5 million families rely on one or more of these government benefits.
The president’s budget for 2018 proposes to slash this various HUD programs by about 6.2 billion dollars. This is about a 15% reduction. But those cutbacks also includes other ancillary services, such as redevelopment or community block grants. But if you just take that 15% number, and extrapolate it based on the 5 million families that currently benefit, this means that 700,000 to 1,000,000 people could be impacted.
While once again the exact impact is probably impossible to get at do to HUD can re-allocate funds, the point is several hundred thousand people could be impacted and have their housing subsidy at risk. They will no longer get any government aid for paying some of their rent. Or they may no longer have as many public housing units to choose. Different people will be impacted in different ways.
Who receives HUD?
This is where it gets even more interesting. Of those 5 million families, about 35% are low income senior citizens. So about 1.5 million are elderly. Many live check to check either from social security or maybe a small pension. They can barely buy food or medicines, much less pay for housing. Will the proposed 2018 HUD budget throw are seniors out on the streets? Could that really happen?
About 25% are disabled, or 1.2 million households. Some of them have kids, some do not. It can be a disabled adult or disabled child in the home. They would be impacted as well by any cutbacks to HUD.
Other possible changes for 2018
The biggest may be the requirement for some form of work, volunteering, and/or job training. Now we agree that all of the HUD benefits should be there for time limited relief and allow people time to get back on their feet; either through a job or training. No one should be able to rely indefinitely on public aid and never take any personal responsibility or initiative. After all this is how TANF welfare works.
But when it comes to the 60% who are elderly and/or disabled this is where it gets more tricky. We imagine it would be difficult for a senior citizen to all of a sudden go back to work or enter some type of high tech job training program. The disabled can of course sometimes work (depending on the disability), but they may be constrained as well. What will HUD do to account for these scenarios….and others like them.
If HUD cuts back billions of dollars from its various program, this will make it difficult for low income families, especially seniors and the disabled. The story will still pay out throughout 2017 and 2018, but even the president’s budget does not get all of what it requests, there still more than likely will be some form of reduction to the government housing programs.