Reports: HUD Considers Elimination of Key Planning Programs

Last night the Washington Post released a story regarding preliminary Housing and Urban Development budget documents obtained by Post reporters. These documents outline a potential proposal of deep and devastating cuts to HUD, including the elimination of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and the HOME Investment Partnerships programs.

If the reports are accurate, these cuts would dismantle some of the key cornerstones of the federal commitment to creating strong communities.

The Washington Post reports that the cuts will come primarily from the Offices of Public and Indian Housing and Community Planning and Development. According to the documents, in addition to the elimination of CDBG and HOME, funding for the Public Housing Capital Fund would be slashed by $1.3 billion and the Public Housing Operating Fund would be cut by $600 million.

Spending for housing vouchers would be reduced by $300 million, and Native American Housing Block Grant would be cut by $150 million. HUD staff would also be impacted; the document details a 5 percent cut to HUD administration and salaries.

APA has not seen a copy of the document and cannot verify the accuracy of the numbers.

The document obtained by the Washington Post was what is known as a “passback,” which is a draft of proposed funding levels for programs that gets “passed” to the Office of Management and Budget for approval as a part of the regular departmental budget drafting process. The leaked document is considered an internal draft and is not typically made public because it is a single step in the long process of drafting the President’s budget proposal.

The Huffington Post reported that the recently confirmed HUD Secretary Ben Carson in an email today to HUD staff said:

“Today you may have read preliminary HUD FY18 budget negotiations in national media reports. Please understand that budget negotiations currently underway are very similar to those that have occurred in previous years. This budget process is a lengthy, back and forth process that will continue. It’s unfortunate that preliminary numbers were published but, please take some comfort in knowing that starting numbers are rarely final numbers. Rest assured, we are working hard to support those programs that help so many Americans, focus on our core mission, and ensure that every tax dollar is spent wisely and effectively.”

These numbers may not reflect what is ultimately included in the formal proposal for HUD; however, if the President follows through with his pledge to cut $54 billion from non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs in FY 2018, the actual budget is likely to be similar.

Rental assistance programs consume more than 84 percent of the HUD budget, leaving little else that can be cut without evicting families from their homes.

Unfortunately, HUD may not be the only department responsible for programs critical to planners that could be targeted with deep cuts in FY 2018. Recent reports suggest that devastating cuts could also be proposed for the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

The President is expected to release a “skinny budget” late next week. Though the details of what will be included in his skinny budget are unclear, it may shed more light on the potential cuts to HUD and the impact of the proposed $54 billion cut to non-defense spending on other departments and agencies.

Take Action

In the meantime, there are several actions you can take to voice your support for HUD, CDBG, and HOME:

  • Join APA in signing a national stakeholder letter to congressional appropriators asking that they provide the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development spending bill with the highest funding level possible in FY 2018.
  • Call your legislators to tell them the impact of eliminating CDBG and HOME would have on your community. The Capitol switchboard will connect you with any Congressional office if you call 202-224-3121.
  • Follow @APAadvocates to stay current on all the latest news from Washington.

APA staff in Washington, D.C., are working with contacts on Capitol Hill, in the administration, and among our coalition partners to gain a better understanding of the situation and to keep members apprised. Again, while it is not clear whether these cuts will be included in the final budget proposal, clearly such drastic and draconian measures warrant a swift and fully informed response. 

Know that the President's budget proposal is an initial step in a long process, and we will be working to keep you up to speed every step of the way.

Top image: HUD Secretary Ben Carson (pictured in 2015) emailed HUD staff to comment on media reports of deep program cuts. Photo by Flickr user Marc Nozell (CC BY 2.0).

About the Author
Tess Hembree is the policy manager at Advocacy Associates.

March 9, 2017

By Tess Hembree