Sequestration’s Effect on Housing Choice Vouchers

By: Ryan Watson

Blog Category: Housing/Entitlement Programs

On March 1, 2013, President Obama signed an executive order calling for budget cuts across the board.[1] The United States government must cut $85 billion from the budget by October 1, 2013.[2] However, it is not clear from where exactly the entire $85 billion will be cut. We do know that the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, which provides rental assistance to low-income families, will be cut by $938 million.[3] In 2001, approximately 5 million families were on rental assistance; the number of families has since skyrocketed to 8.5 million families in 2011.[4] The estimation is that over 100,000 families will lose HCV assistance in the next year.[5] Of those 8.5 million families, a large portion are minorities living in urban environments. It seems ironic that President Obama was one of the driving forces behind the sequestration cuts and now seeks to make political gains on the backs of these same people.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.  

[1] Richard Cowan and Jeff Mason, New Budget Crisis Begins after Washington Fiscal Talks Fail, Reuters, available at

[2] Id.

[3] Douglas Rice, Sequestration Cuts Devastate Low-Income Housing Programs, Open Society Foundations, available at

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

Low-Income Households Get Relief From Hurricane Sandy

By *Jennifer Rutter

Blog Topic: Housing/Entitlement Programs

Low-Income Households Get Relief From Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy produced devastating affects on hundreds of thousands of people, but its aftermath has had a greater impact on low-income households.  Of the Sandy-related federal aid claims made by New York and New Jersey households, 43% had an income less than $30k while 68% of renters that made FEMA claims were low-income.[1]

Fortunately, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has acted quickly and released the first round of the $16 billion in Community Development Block Grant funding from the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 designed to restore housing and revitalize the economy in the regions most impacted by Hurricane Sandy.[2]

New Jersey’s Housing Voucher Program, funded by HUD, is providing displaced low-income households with vouchers to assist people in obtaining a permanent residence, which has been especially hard for renters.[3]  Homeowners in New Jersey may also be eligible for a mortgage forgiveness if they are unemployed or underemployed.[4]

Additionally, affected homeowners with Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac mortgages that are facing foreclosure have been given an additional 90 days and the FHA has agreed not to evict persons in impacted areas through April 30, 2013.[5]

Although income levels made no difference to Hurricane Sandy’s path, the government has recognized the higher necessity among the impacted low-income households and acted accordingly.


The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.


The sequestration and the affect on Federal Housing Assistance Programs

By: *Andrew Patrick

Blog Topic: Housing/Entitlement Programs

The sequestration the affect on Federal Housing Assistance Programs

Congress’ recent sequestration imposes mandatory cuts in funding to many different government agencies.  This process, which began on March 1st, was put in place as an effort to reduce the United States growing debt.  The mandatory cuts mandated by Congress will significantly impact many government entitlement programs that are targeted to assist low-income individuals.

Federal housing assistance programs are among those that will feel the effect of these budget reductions.  Some of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development programs that are affected include: Section 8 Rental Assistance, Emergency Shelter Programs, and Public Housing Shelter. The federal government reported, prior to these cuts being put in place, that 8.4 million low income households pay more than half of their income on rent.

Shelter is one of the basic needs of human life and it is estimated that over 125,000 families and individuals will lose their housing as a result of the budget cuts to housing assistance programs.  Many low-income families and individuals that depend on this assistance from the government face the risk of homelessness.  These budget cuts will certainly have an adverse affect on those families and individuals who have already been able to obtain housing through these assistance programs.


*Andrew Patrick is a staff member on the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race. To learn more about Andrew, click here to view his page.