Sequestration hits Michigan housing

Added February 27th, 2014 by Judy Putnam | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Judy Putnam

Some 3,000 fewer low-income households in Michigan — including seniors, those with disabilities and families with children — used housing vouchers to rent private housing in December, compared with a year ago, according to new estimates from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

That’s the fallout from across-the-board federal sequestration cuts, which started nearly a year ago. The projections were based on new Department of Housing and Urban Development data.

Nationally, the Housing Choice Voucher Program (sometimes known as “Section 8”) was cut by nearly $1 billion. In Michigan, 50,432 families used vouchers in December, down nearly 6 percent from December 2012, the Center estimates.

“These cuts come at a particularly bad time,’’ writes CBPP Senior Policy Analyst Douglas Ross. “The number of renter households paying unaffordable housing costs is at historic highs.’’

Ross cites a new report by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, which warns that what’s known as “severe cost burdens” are particularly alarming in the aftermath of the Great Recession. High costs are measured by those who have to pay more than half their income for housing.

In Michigan, unemployment remains high and the harsh winter is expected to strain available help to cover high heating costs, further adding to the difficulty of many families struggling to meet basic needs.

The federal deal announced in December, the Murray-Ryan budget agreement, offered partial relief from sequestration in 2014 and 2015, Ross notes. That will allow restoration of about half of the 70,000 vouchers cut nationwide this year.

That means there will still be ground to make up. Policymakers must provide sufficient funds in 2015 to full reverse the damage to the voucher program from sequestration.

— Judy Putnam


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