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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Thousands of low income families in Washington could face painful reductions in housing assistance if Congress fails to approve additional funding for a critical federal voucher program. The Housing Choice Voucher Program provides rental support for about two million low income families throughout the United States. The program, however, faces a large budget shortfall for the remainder of 2009. Left unfilled, this shortfall could force hundreds of state and local housing agencies, serving 500,000 families, to curtail or eliminate rental assistance administered through the voucher program. Here in Washington, as many as 11,550 families could see reductions in housing vouchers.

According to a new analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), the shortfall in the voucher program immediately threatens rental assistance in about 400 state and local housing agencies. Cumulatively, these agencies will need an additional $130 million in funding for vouchers in 2009 to avoid drastic cuts in rental assistance and to restore assistance where cuts have already been made.

As of May 2009, shortfalls among housing agencies in Washington totaled nearly $1.6 million, leaving vouchers for 404 families completely unfunded.

The CBPP report goes on to show that states will have few good options should congress fail to approve additional funds for the voucher program. These options include:

  • Denying vouchers to eligible families on waiting lists, even when slots become available;

  • raising rents on voucher families;

  • reducing rents paid to property owners; and

  • terminating vouchers for participating families.

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