As the Mayor weighs options for loss of public housing funding, Trump considers $6B in HUD cuts

Posted On Thu, March 9, 2017 By

Posted On Thu, March 9, 2017 By In affordable housing, Policy

Just two days after newly appointed Secretary of HUD (the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) Ben Carson went along with plans to cut federal funding to NYCHA by at least $35 million, the Trump administration is reportedly considering decreasing HUD’s total budget by a staggering $6 billion, or 14 percent, according to a leaked budget draft obtained by the Washington Post. Though it’s not clear how the cuts will affect NYC specifically, previous estimates said cuts to NYCHA’s federal aid could easily balloon to $150 million this year, and Mayor de Blasio was already weighing his options for how to deal with the blow. The Wall Street Journal reports that he said yesterday he plans to put aside city money to help fill the gap, but if the city is “cut on many, many fronts simultaneously,” there won’t be enough to cover the loss in federal funding.

Nationally, there are roughly 1.2 million public housing units, and, as the Post explains, “The plan would squeeze public housing support and end most federally funded community development grants, which provide services such as meal assistance and cleaning up abandoned properties in low-income neighborhoods.” The $6 billion loss is part of Trump’s larger plan to cut domestic spending by $54 billion in order to add to the defense budget. HUD’s budget would decrease to $40.5 billion in fiscal year 2018, which begins this coming October. More specifically, the public housing capital fund–which covers repairs at housing developments, a need very specific to NYC–would lose $1.3 billion (a 32 percent decrease), while the public housing operating fund would lose $600 million (a 13 percent decrease).

Additionally, the $3 billion Community Development Block Grant Program would be cut entirely. This initiative, which for decades has received bipartisan support in Congress, provides federal funding for local projects that work to end poverty and urban decline, such as building a bike and pedestrian trail in New Orleans. Another $1 billion would be gained from eliminating the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, which provides block grants to local communities building affordable housing, and the Choice Neighborhoods program, which funds redevelopment efforts in low-income communities. Special interest groups, including homeless veterans, the elderly, those with disabilities, and Native Americans, would also be hit hard.

Here in New York City, as 6sqft reported earlier this week, “Roughly $2 billion of NYCHA‘s total $3.2 billion operating budget comes from HUD funding, which is immediately needed for the thousands of apartments in dire need of repairs.” Some city officials believe the $35 million loss, a five percent funding decrease, is “a bureaucratic tactic to lessen the blow of more severe cuts later in the year.” In response, Mayor de Blasio said, “By and large we’re not going to get ahead of the action and start saying what we will compensate for and what we won’t compensate for. First and foremost because if we say it, we have to live up to it, and we don’t know the magnitude of the cuts. We don’t know what we’re facing.”

HUD spokesman Jereon Brown claims the budget document is “still a work in progress.” The Trump administration is expected to release its complete budget plan next week.

[Via WSJ and WP]

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