Affordable Housing Under Siege at HUD

Categories: HUD, Budget, The Insider

The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s mission is “to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all.” But according to the Trump administration’s budget proposal for 2018, the department is no longer interested in doing all that. It's seeking to cut $7.4 billion from programs that low-income seniors, people with disabilities, and the most vulnerable people in our society depend on.

AFGE HUD Council 222, which represents HUD employees nationwide, condemns these cuts as “cruel indifference” to those struggling to barely get by.

Here are a few examples of how the budget cuts are hurting communities across America: 

  1. The budget eliminates the Community Development Block Grant program.
    The CDBG program is one of the longest running programs at HUD. It provides cities with funding for affordable housing, anti-poverty programs, and improving infrastructure. It provides meal assistance for homebound seniors and helps clean up abandoned properties in low-income neighborhoods. It promotes development in urban areas, resulting in more jobs and infrastructure improvements. It is a lifeline for communities across America.
  2. It cuts funding for rental assistance.
    The budget cuts rental assistance by $2 billion. Part of that reduction is accomplished by increasing tenant contributions toward rent from 30% to 35% of adjusted income for those who can least afford it. The Section 8 Rental Assistance Program will be funded at only $60 million, one-fourth the amount of its 2017 total resources. 

  3. It cuts funding for public housing.
    Funding for the Public Housing Capital Fund is cut by almost 70 percent – from $1.9 billion to $564 million. This fund provides money to public housing authorities to address the most acute needs for capital repairs and replacements in aging public housing developments. The budget also reduces public housing funding by $1.8 billion, or 29 percent, from 2017 levels. The fund helps 2.2 million low-income residents by fixing leaky roofs or replacing outdated heating systems and electrical wiring in public housing. 

  4. It cuts funding for homeless assistance.
    The budget cuts $133 million from homeless assistance grants, which provide critical support for communities’ efforts to prevent homelessness, help homeless families move from shelters to stable homes, and reduce long-term or repeated homelessness among people with mental illness and disabilities. 

  5. It cuts funding for housing for people with disabilities.
    The budget reduces funding of Section 811 Housing for People with Disabilities program to $121 million, $25 million less than the 2017 level. 

“The proposed 2018 HUD budget eliminates critical funding without providing viable alternatives to support those in need,” said the AFGE HUD Council. “It ignores the fact that federal assistance has been necessary because states and local communities do not have the money to provide safe, clean, affordable housing for families with children, the elderly, and the disabled.” 

While the Trump administration is slashing programs that protect millions of Americans from poverty, it seeks to enrich billionaires, corporate interests and their lobbyists by cutting the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%, among other outrageous things it’s planning to do. 

AFGE's HUD Council is proposing reforms the administration should pursue instead of cutting aid to those in need: 

  1. Reduce manager positions. In Headquarters and regional offices, the agency is saturated with management positions and multiple layers of management. 

  2. Reduce supervisors and Senior Executive Service staff. While there is an oft-cited narrative of the difficulty of terminating front-line employees, the real cost savings lies in dealing with the numerous non-functional SES positions across the department. It is a long HUD tradition that when an SES employee is not performing, that employee gets moved to a position that is essentially non-functional. The Employee and Labor Relations Division at HUD has issued an edict that bargaining unit employees should be terminated for non-performance. However, this same edict does not appear to apply to managers. 

  3. Reduce the number of contractors. Contractors are more expensive than in-house employees and require monitoring and oversight. They are less knowledgeable about HUD programs and make mistakes that would not be made by HUD employees. According to the HUD Inspector General, errors in HUD financial reports were attributable in part to HUD management outsourcing “roles to staff and contractors who were unfamiliar with HUD’s financial reporting processes and did not receive adequate training.” 

  4. Analyze the workforce. The agency needs to review positions that have a higher grade level but only perform a single work function in the field such as Management Analyst and Program Analyst. These positions and duties need to reflect the program areas and employees need to be moved to areas where there are staff shortages. Job duties need to be clearly defined to ensure efficient service delivery. The focus should be on frontline delivery of services. 

  5. Provide flexibility in budgetary and personnel practices. Budgetary restrictions on the funding of positions leads to inflexibility in moving personnel. We have seen one program area run out of work for employees in certain jobs, while other program areas desperately need help, and, although the near-idle employees want to work, they are prohibited from helping their sister program offices. 

See the entire list of suggestions by the AFGE HUD Council here

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