The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides several services for those seeking affordable housing. The issue of housing is also affected by other federal government policies.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides several services for those seeking affordable housing. For example, Section 8 housing vouchers provide low-income families with rental subsidies which pay the cost of their rent exceeding 30 percent of their income; Section 202 vouchers provide supportive housing for the elderly; and Section 811 vouchers provide rental assistance to the disabled. HUD also runs special initiatives such as the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program. HOPWA is aimed at housing people with HIV/AIDS, whose overwhelming medical expenses often create difficulties in funding adequate, affordable housing.
Since the passage of the McKinney Homeless Assistance Act in 1987 HUD has funded programs specifically targeted to address homelessness. HUD currently provides funds for permanent and supportive housing, shelters, transitional housing and services. Based on a "continuum of care" approach, the programs seek to smoothly guide individuals from life on the streets to stable housing arrangements. The federal government also funds Health Care for the Homeless, the only federally funded program designed specifically to meet the complex health care needs of people without homes. Health Care for the Homeless projects all over the country offer an integrated, community-based approach to make sure people without homes receive the health care services they need.
National Housing Trust Fund
After almost a decade of advocacy by the Religious Action Center and other organizations, The National Housing Trust Fund was established as a part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. The Fund serves as a source of revenue for the production of new housing, and the preservation or rehabilitation of existing housing that is affordable for low-income people.
- It is a permanent program, and will have dedicated source of funding not subject to the annual appropriations process.
- At least 90% of the funds must be used for the production, preservation, rehabilitation, or operation of rental housing. Up to 10% can be used for the following homeownership activities for first-time homebuyers: production, preservation, and rehabilitation; down payment assistance, closing cost assistance, and assistance for interest rate buy-downs.
- At least 75% of the funds for rental housing must benefit extremely low income households and all funds must benefit very low income households.
Both the Union for Reform Judaism and CCAR endorsed the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund Act.
The National Housing Trust Fund, when established, was to be provided with funding from government-backed mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Unfortunately, these agencies do not have sufficient funds to contribute to the Fund, and without a dedicated source of funding, the Trust Fund remains unutilized.
Both the Union and CCAR have endorsed the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund Act. National Low Income Housing Coalition spearheads the campaign to advocate for the passage of affordable housing legislation.
On April 24, 2002 religious leaders throughout the country participated in the "National Day of Prayer and Lobbying for National Affordable Housing Trust Fund Act." The Religious Leaders National Call for Action on Housing is a national coalition of hundreds of prominent national religious leaders representing major faith traditions throughout the United Stated.
Become An Endorser of the National Housing Trust Fund:
Is your congregation interested in issues of affordable housing? Get more involved in the campaign for the National Housing Trust Fund. The National Low-Income Housing Coalition are seeking community endorsers for the National Housing Trust Fund.
The National Affordable Housing Trust Fund Actwould establish a National Affordable Housing Trust Fund in the Treasury of the United States. The Trust Fund would be a dedicated source of funds for the development, rehabilitation, and preservation of 1.5 million units of decent, safe, and affordable housing for low-income families over the next 10 years. Trust funds support a variety of housing activities for low and very low-income households including new construction, preservation of existing housing, emergency repairs and homeless shelters. The National Affordable Housing Trust Fund would not only produce new affordable housing units but it would also provide a much needed stimulus to our economy, creating jobs and adding to the revenues of states and localities.
Become an advocate for affordable housing in your community. If your congregation is interested in becoming a sponsor, please contact email@example.com with your congregation’s name, contact, title, mailing address, phone, fax, and email. For more information, contact RAC Legislative Assistant David Goodman.
The Amelioration of Poverty
In addition to legislation pertaining to housing assistance, many bills that do not immediately seem relevant to homelessness and housing can aid families in becoming self-sufficient and help ensure that these families can avoid becoming homeless. As a result, it is very important to examine related issues and legislation including food stamps, the minimum wage and child, which help alleviate poverty in general, thereby decreasing homelessness and hunger.
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there is a growing disparity between income and housing costs as well a serious lack of affordable housing in America. A housing wage is what a full-time worker must earn per hour in order to afford Fair Market Rent (FMR), paying no more than 30 percent of their income. FMR are rent estimates; they include rent and cost of utilities, except telephone. HUD sets FMRs to make sure that a sufficient supply of rental housing is available to program participants (programs include: Housing Choice Voucher Program, the Moderate Rehabilitation Single Room Occupancy Program and the project-based voucher program). The national housing wage is $18.44 per hour, but the federal minimum wage is only $7.25 per hour. In 24 states the housing wage is more than twice the Federal or State minimum wage. In these states, on average, there must be more than two full-time minimum wage workers in a household in order for the household to afford a two bedroom housing unit at FMR.
In recent years, there have been continued efforts to raise the minimum wage. The minimum wage has not been increased since former President Bush signed the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, which contained a provision that raised it to its current level of $7.25 per hour. For more information about the minimum wage, go to the RAC's Minimum Wage issue page.
For a more detailed list of pending housing and community development legislation go to www.nlihc.org/news/legupdate.htm on the National Low Income Housing Coalition's website