HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson assured the public that housing will be included in a new infrastructure spending bill, The Washington Post reported.
This comes after the current administration proposed to slash HUD’s budget by $6.2 billion.
“The part that people are not hearing even though I’ve said it several times in that this administration considers housing a significant part of infrastructure in our country,” Dr. Carson was quoted as saying at the National Low Income Housing Coalition conference held in Washington, DC.
“And as such, the infrastructure bill that’s being worked on has a significant inclusion of housing in it.” No details yet about the projects under the new $1-trillion infrastructure bill, including how it will offset the cut on the housing budget.
In his April 3 keynote speech, Dr. Carson insisted, “There is no one – Section 811, 202 – no one is going to be thrown out on the street. What would that accomplish? That doesn’t make any sense and is certainly not going to happen while I’m around. We do have a responsibility.”
President to Spend $6.2 Billion Less in Housing
Per the budget blueprint made public on March 16, President Trump is requesting $40.7 billion in gross discretionary funding for the HUD, representing a decrease of $6.2 billion or 13% from its 2017 annualized continuing resolution (CR) level.
The President’s 2018 budget “proposes reforms that reduce costs while continuing to assist 4.5 million low-income households.” By this, the President seeks to:
- Eliminate funding for the Community Development Block Grant program which will realize $3 billion in savings. The government has spent more than $150 billion for the program since its inception but the block grant program is not well-targeted and has not demonstrated results.
- Eliminate funding for certain lower priority programs such as the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, Choice Neighborhoods, and the Self-help Homeownership Opportunity Program which will realize savings of more than $1.1 billion.
- Eliminate funding for Section 4 Capacity Building for Community Development and Affordable Housing which will realize savings of $35 million.
On the other hand, HUD’s FY 2018 budget will (i) support FHA’s mortgage insurance programs, (ii) boost budget for healthy and lead-safe homes by $20 million, totaling $130 million, and (iii) provide more than $35 billion to rental assistance programs.
Before the public disclosure of the proposed 2018 budget, the Post reported about the budget cuts detailing $1.3 billion to be slashed from the HUD’s capital fund, $4 billion from community development grants, $600 million from the HUD’s operating fund, $42 million from Section 202 supportive housing for the elderly, and $29 million from Section 811 supportive housing for people with disabilities.
After the preliminary cuts were reported, Dr. Carson initially insisted via email to the Post staff that those cuts will not make it to 2018’s final budget commendation. The final budget blueprint did include some of the leaked budget cuts.
Housing experts and advocates, according to the Post, have called the budget reduction as devastating. For instance, flat-funding the HUD’s Section 8 voucher program will result in 200,000 affordable housing units to be lost, the report noted citing a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis.
Per the Post, Dr. Carson has commented that both the HUD and the federal government have to spend “effectively and efficiently”. “We shouldn’t be looking for handouts, but we should be looking for things where everyone involved in the situation benefits.”
The budget blueprint is the skinny on the full budget request expected in May. The blueprint is now before the Congress which has begun discussions and hearings on the matter.