The debt ceiling agreement seeks to limit all discretionary spending to one percent growth in 2025, a rate that is significantly less than inflation. This represents a de facto cut in key government programs that serve the poorest Americans. It will specifically harm key U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development programs that are the cornerstone of the nation’s efforts to prevent and end homelessness. Due to inflation, skyrocketing rents, and higher interest rates, these programs require an estimated $13 billion investment for FY 2024 just to maintain current levels of service.
“At a time when communities across the nation are crushed with rising rents, stagnant wages, and increases in homelessness, it makes absolutely no sense for our leaders to reduce their commitment to Americans with the greatest needs,” said Ann Oliva, CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness. “Capping programs that serve the country’s most vulnerable, including federal housing and targeted homelessness programs, will undoubtedly cause further spikes in homelessness. Furthermore, it will make more Americans at risk of becoming homeless, and it will make it harder to exit people currently experiencing homelessness into housing. Once again, people of color, people with disabilities, older Americans, LGBTQ communities, and other marginalized groups will be disproportionately impacted. This deal will weaken homeless systems all over the country and make the lifesaving work of front-line homeless system workers even harder.”
The Alliance also rejected new proposed work requirements for Americans aged 50–54 to access the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Although the deal provides exceptions for those experiencing homelessness, work requirements will still impact countless people at risk of homelessness, as well those who have exited homelessness through permanent supportive housing and Rapid Re-Housing programs. This includes an increasingly vulnerable population of older adults.
“It is unconscionable to reduce assistance at a time when we are seeing homelessness on the rise among older adults. We must do more – not less – to protect people as they age,” said Oliva. “Work requirements are proven to be a bureaucratic nightmare that separate households from the most basic benefits they need and for which they are eligible. This decision will only make them more vulnerable, more rent-burdened, and at greater risk of becoming homeless.” The Alliance calls upon members of Congress to recognize the disastrous impacts of this proposal, and to reject future budget cuts that are made at the expense of the nation’s poorest households.