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Affordable Housing

Affordable housing leaders call for end to government shutdown

The partial government shutdown is now in its third week, and affordable housing leaders are demanding that it come to an end.On December 21, 2018, Congress did not pass a spending bill that included the president’s requested $5 billion in funding for a border wall, and President Donald Trump refused to sign any bill that did not include that funding, resulting in a partial government shutdown.

And now no one is really sure how long it could last. In fact, during a negotiation meeting with top Democrats, Trump said the shutdown could go on for “months or even years.”

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The letter called on Congress to pass full-year spending bills that provide strong funding for affordable housing and community development programs.

The campaign, led by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, expressed concern over the shutdown’s immediate and long-term impact on affordable housing programs and low-income people. The letter explained that individuals working without pay, including janitors, security guards and cafeteria servers, are at risk of being unable to cover their rent payments.

“The longer the shutdown continues, the more the lowest income people will be hard hit,” NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel said. “Residents living in HUD-subsidized properties are some of our country’s most vulnerable people – the clear majority are deeply poor seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children.”

READ MORE:  U.S. housing market faces '5-percent' test

“They rely on government assistance to remain housed, and a prolonged government shutdown puts them at increased risk of eviction and potentially homelessness,” Yentel said. “It’s incredibly reckless to risk the homes of our country’s lowest-income and most vulnerable people as perceived leverage for a border wall.”

Their full letter, addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, stresses the impact the shutdown is having on vulnerable communities.

The National Association of Realtors also released its own assessment of the shutdown’s impact. NAR estimates the shutdown is having an impact on about 25% of home sales – 11% on current clients, 11% on potential clients and 8% on other impacts.

The main reason for this impact was 25% of affected homebuyers said they decided not to buy due to general economic uncertainty. Another 17% were affected by the delay of U.S. Department of Agriculture loans, and 13% experienced a delay due to Internal Revenue Service verification (which it just announced it will resume again.)

“The housing industry was already facing market challenges before any government closure,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said. “The shutdown has made matters worse.”

“A home purchase is a major expenditure that simultaneously involves a high level of excitement and anxiety, and the current government shutdown adds another layer of unnecessary complication to the home buying process,” Yun said. “The shutdown is causing tangible harm to potential buyers, the real estate market and economic growth.”

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