Policy Alert: The Administration’s budget and what it means for homelessness

March 17, 2017  |  Publications

Federal Policy Brief

President Trump released his “skinny budget” on March 16. The proposed cuts to programs that help poor and low-income people are enormous, and the increases small. This budget proposal starts off the Fiscal Year 2018 budget season, and there will be lots of back and forth with Congress and opportunities for you to weigh in.

The proposal was not very detailed, and there is still a lot that we don’t know. But here’s an overview of its impact on homelessness.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

The proposal calls for a 13.2 percent — $6.2 billion — decrease below the HUD’s FY 2016 budget. NOTE: It could be even deeper if the FY 2017 budget ends up being higher than the 2016 budget was.

Here’s what we know.

The budget proposes to eliminate programs that help support local efforts to end homelessness.

  • The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, which coordinates the federal programs that end homelessness and helps communities access them.
  • The Community Development Block Grant that funds housing, services, administrative staff and more.
  • The HOME Investment Partnerships Program that helps fund affordable and supportive housing.

Here’s what we don’t know.

  • How much funding is proposed for the Homeless Assistance Grant and Emergency Solutions Grant Programs, although there is some indication that it is at least as much as in FY 2016.
  • Whether there will be cuts or changes to the Housing Choice Voucher Program. No cuts are specified but reforms and efficiencies are, and there is a big ($3.4 billion) cut in the agency budget that is not explained. Many feel it could only come from the voucher program.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

The Administration is proposing a $15.1 billion or 17.9 percent decrease to the 2018 HHS budget. Again, the proposed
changes that affect homeless people are these.

  • $500 million to expand opioid misuse prevention and increase access to treatment and recovery services at SAMHSA.
  • Elimination of the Community Services Block Grant Program, which delivers services to low-income people.
  • Elimination of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which by paying utility bills prevents evictions and homelessness.
  • Continuing support for community health centers and Ryan White HIV/AIDS providers.

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

The proposed budget seeks a $4.6 billion increase in discretionary funding to the VA budget. Details are not provided, but preventing homelessness is mentioned.