Despite an increasing demand for housing assistance, the HCV program has experienced years of significant underfunding and deep prorations that have led to a loss of vouchers for needy families.
In 2011, Congress passed the Budget Control Act (BCA) to raise the national debt “ceiling” in exchange for mandatory budget cuts over a ten-year period. Without this quid-pro-quo budget exchange, the BCA imposes spending limits, also called “budget caps,” through sequestration. Since the BCA’s passage, Congress has been unable to produce bills that lower spending levels, and as a result, the BCA has placed budget caps on most non-discretion and discretionary programs, including housing assistance programs.
Sequestration has prevented housing assistance programs to be funded at 100 percent of programmatic needs. Between 2011 and 2016, essential funding used to pay for front-line staff and the renewal existing housing assistance contracts has been reduced by up to 25 percent, all while housing assistance needs have grown. Only one in four households that qualify for housing assistance through the HCV program actually receive a voucher. Budget caps have severely constrained housing authorities’ abilities to predict costs and address growing demand for deeply affordable housing.
Federal rental assistance through the HCV program is a critical mechanism to maintain and create affordable housing at a time when the private market alone is failing to provide an adequate supply, especially for extremely low-income households. CLPHA supports the expansion of the voucher program to provide full financial support to the HCV program to fund renewals and ensure contract renewals, as well as expand the program to serve more low-income households.
In high cost markets, PBVs can be an invaluable tool to create long term affordability. Under a project-based subsidy model, PHAs can acquire and/or redevelop housing units in cost-prohibitive, amenity rich areas that are close to jobs, public transit, childcare and health care, and ensure their long-term affordability to very-low and extremely-low income households. While households receiving a tenant-based voucher aren’t expressly prohibited from renting in amenity rich areas, they are often challenged to find an affordable unit given their fixed subsidy and private property owners’ disincentive to accept vouchers.
CLPHA supports efforts to increase the quantity of project-based vouchers available to PHAs. The expansion of project-based voucher utilization is particularly promising for PHAs in high-rent, low-vacancy markets which can leverage project-based vouchers to secure affordable housing developments and stabilize competitive rental markets.
CLPHA’s members represent some of the highest-performing, highest-capacity agencies in the country. Our members have focused on innovation and placed-based strategies to long-term resident success. CLPHA supports programs that promote innovation like the Moving-to-Work demonstration program, which was designed to allow housing authorities to operate with greater levels of administrative flexibility and local decision-making.
MTW allows public housing authorities to blend the administrative and capital funding pools so they may provide additional services and improve housing quality. Any funds that the housing authority saves through smart spending can then be re-invested for needs that meet its mission, instead of being re-captured by HUD. This strategy is common in the private sector as it incentivizes innovation, allows for long-range financial planning, and saves dollars in the long term.
Housing Choice Vouchers can target especially vulnerable low-income households that may also benefit from wrap-around services. Special purpose vouchers encourage cross-sector partnerships with health, education, and human services agencies to maximize the impact of stable housing on a household’s path toward self-sufficiency.
Examples of special purpose vouchers include
- Non-Elderly Disabled (NED), which provides assistance to disabled households that wish to transition from a nursing home or medical facility to rent a subsidized housing unit;
- Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH), which assists homeless veterans;
- Family Unification Program (FUP), which encourages PHAs and state child welfare agencies to identify homeless or housing instable youth between 18-24 years old who have exited the foster care system; and
- Tenant Protection Vouchers (TPV), which protect households when the funding model of a unit changes from public housing to the HCV platform.
CLPHA supports the creation of opportunities for PHAs to assist high-needs households in a collaborative manner that considers the unique conditions of their tenant populations.