Federal cuts squeeze housing assistance for low-income Minnesotans

Federal budget cuts to housing assistance for low-income renters “have left local Minnesota authorities scrambling to keep their programs solvent and administer needed housing assistance,” according to a new report.

Out in the Cold: Sequestration and Federal Housing Programs in Minnesota by the Minnesota Housing Partnership (MHP) and the Minnesota chapter of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Authorities (NAHRO) shows the harmful impact of federal reductions to the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCV or Section 8) and public housing. Together, Section 8 and public housing serve more than 50,000 Minnesota households, nearly 60 percent of which include seniors or people with disabilities.

Out of the Cold cover graphicAccording to the report, reduced funding has resulted in higher housing and utility costs, longer waiting lists and poorer building maintenance.

Some of the report’s key findings:

  • “Over half of the Minnesota agencies administering HCV [Section 8 Vouchers] expect their waiting lists to exceed two years by January of 2014. Sixteen percent have a waiting list that already exceeds six years.
  • As housing authorities run out of avenues to protect residents from sequestration-related cuts, the number of vouchers and units available will decrease and financial burden on residents will increase.”

The report calls for a reversal of sequestration, warning that, “Unless sequestration is reversed, cuts to our largest safety net housing programs will force more vulnerable families, seniors, and people with disabilities into unacceptably high housing payments or housing instability. Some will become homeless.” The federal budget deal passed this week gives federal policymakers the opportunity to reverse some of the sequestration cuts to these housing programs.

-Barb Brady

About Barb Brady

Barb Brady was the Minnesota Budget Project’s communications manager through May 2014.
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