The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Housing Program Criticized for Falling Short Again

by NewStandard Staff

Mar. 15, 2006 – A progressive research group expressed disappointment Monday that the Bush administration shows no intention of changing how a major type of low-income housing assistance is distributed to communities.

The president’s proposed 2007 budget includes a modest increase in funding for the federal housing-voucher program but maintains a formula the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) predicts will leave about 70 percent of state and local programs without enough vouchers to meet current needs.

According to the CBPP, since 2004, Congress has eliminated voucher assistance for more than 100,000 families under the Housing Choice Voucher Program, the nation’s largest housing-assistance effort. The CBPP says many of the families who lost their vouchers were victims of a funding formula that ignores current needs.

"Given the long and growing waiting lists for vouchers in many communities, that’s a painful loss," said Barbara Sard, director of housing policy at the Center and the report’s lead author, in a press statement.

She added, "Unfortunately, the Administration’s new budget relies on the same basic funding formula that has caused problems over the past couple of years."

As previously reported by The NewStandard, voucher funding is determined according to the number of vouchers the program was eligible for the previous year, instead of the fluctuating real-world needs of communities. As a result, most housing agencies administering the program do not receive enough money to provide every needy family with a home, while other programs receive more funding than they can allocate. In 2006, the program will provide some 2 million households with partial rent subsidies for private housing.

The CBPP projects that if Congress adopts Bush’s proposed voucher-funding scheme, 28 states would be forced to grant fewer families vouchers in 2007 than they did in 2006 due to inadequate funding. On the other hand, a few agencies would receive more than 140 percent of the funding they need, according to the report.

However, since Bush has proposed a 3 percent increase in overall funding for the voucher program in 2007, CBPP notes that if the formula were changed to reflect actual needs in each state, the administration’s budget would be sufficient to maintain funding for nearly all vouchers currently in use, leaving only those still on waiting lists out in the cold.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

This News Report originally appeared in the March 15, 2006 edition of The NewStandard.
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