U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro testified in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations today regarding the HUD budget for the 2016 fiscal year, emphasizing the new budget will be used to help more Americans secure a home. The proposed budget would increase $4 billion from last year to a total of $49.3 billion. HUD’s budget proposes more than $21 billion for the Housing Choice Voucher Program, which Secretary Castro said would extend support to more than 2.4 million low-income families.
“This support is urgently needed. Last year Americans living in a number of cities, including Phoenix, St. Louis, San Francisco and Denver were confronted with rents that increased by double-digits from the year before. And the crunch in housing affordability comes at a time when millions of our fellow citizens are working harder to make ends meet,” he said. “As HUD outlined in our 2015 ‘Worst Case Housing Needs’ Report, there are currently 13.7 million very low-income households in the United States that receive no assistance to cover the cost of housing. Even more alarming, 7.7 million of those households – those with the ‘worst case needs’ – live in severely inadequate housing, pay more than 50 percent of their income in rent, or both.”
Castro said combatting homelessness is a crucial component to the budget. According to Castro, living in a safe, stable home is one of the biggest predictors of a child’s success in both school and overall health. He said that’s why the HUD budget is also “proposing funding that would effectively end chronic homelessness and make significant strides in our work to end homelessness among families and youth.”
”With Congress’ support through programs like HUD-VASH, we have seen dramatic reductions in homelessness among veterans. If our nation invests in the targeted programs we know work, we can make similar progress in tackling other forms of homelessness,” he said.
The proposed budget would give $2.5 billion to Homeless Assistance Grants, a $345 million increase over last year’s funding. Another $117.5 million would be used to target Housing Choice Vouchers in an effort to support families experiencing homelessness, veterans, and American Indians living in tribal communities.
HUD will also be investing in programs that will help upward mobility for residents. The Jobs Plus initiative, a program designed to improve employment and earnings outcomes for public housing residents through supports such as work readiness, employer linkages, job placement and financial literacy, will receive $100 million in funding. An investment of $85 million would go to the Family Self-Sufficiency initiative which could connect 80,000 families to job and financial literacy training and important services like child care and transportation.
“This year, as HUD commemorates 50 years of expanding opportunity for all Americans no matter where they live or how much they earn, we’re also creating a solid foundation for the next 50 years and beyond,” Secretary Castro said. “The President’s Budget helps us to do this, and I look forward to working with this Committee in continued partnership to build a future where every American can prosper.”