Thousands of Low-income Families to Lose Housing Assistance Under Bush Budget Plan

News Release
March 17, 2004 Download PDF

[Revised, March 26, 2004]

Nearly 2,200 low-income families in Portland and thousands of others around Oregon could lose their federal housing assistance in the next five years under cuts proposed by the Bush Administration, according to new data released today by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) in Washington, D.C.

"The Bush Administration’s proposed cuts would make it substantially more difficult for thousands of low-income families in Oregon to keep their families stable and move into the economic mainstream," said Michael Leachman, policy analyst at the Oregon Center for Public Policy, who reviewed the report.

Download a copy of this news release:

Thousands of Low-income Families to Lose Housing Assistance Under Bush Budget Plan (PDF), March 17, 2004.


Related Materials:

Download the news release from the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities (PDF).

Download the methodology from the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities (PDF).

Download the Oregon data from the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities (PDF).

The President’s budget for fiscal year 2005 calls for cutting the voucher program by over $1.6 billion next year, with the size of the cut reaching $4.6 billion, or 30 percent, by 2009. These draconian cuts to the nation’s main housing assistance program would present housing agencies in Oregon with two unappealing options: drop families from the voucher program or raise the amount that voucher holders pay.

"If Oregon received a proportional share of the cuts nationally and Oregon housing agencies chose to implement the cuts by dropping families from the program," said Leachman, "over 9,200 fewer Oregon families would receive vouchers five years from now." Given the current distribution of vouchers, the CBPP estimates that nearly 2,200 families in Portland would lose benefits and the number of recipients in communities across Oregon would decline by nearly 30 percent (Table 1).

If the agencies chose to raise the amounts that recipients have to pay, the average recipient in Oregon would be paying nearly $1,600 more annually. Rent increases would vary by community and would be about $2,200 in Washington County and nearly $1,800 in Central Oregon (Table 1).

Under the current program, low-income families use housing vouchers to find a modest rental unit in the private marketplace. The family typically pays no more than 30 percent of the rent, and the federal government pays the rest. The families benefiting from the current program generally fall below the federal poverty level; under current rules at least 75 percent of newly admitted recipients must have incomes less than 30 percent of the housing area's median income.

"The Bush Administration’s proposal would both force drastic cuts in the program and substantially alter its basic structure," said Leachman. The Administration would turn the program into a block grant with few federal rules, "likely producing a confusing range of program rules across the country," according to Leachman. The Administration would also eliminate the rule requiring 75 percent of new recipients to have incomes less than 30 percent of area median income, eliminating the program’s focus on helping low-income families.

"The Administration’s proposal would dramatically alter the nation’s major low-income housing assistance program," said Leachman. "If the proposal passes, communities across Oregon will experience considerable suffering."

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ analysis accompanies a press release embargoed until 12 Noon (PT) entitled, "Many Low-Income Families Would Lose Federal Housing Assistance Under Proposed Funding Cuts."

Table 1: Estimates of cuts to Oregon housing agencies
under President's budget

Housing Agency

# Vouchers as of July 2003

Reduction in Number of Families Assisted by 2009

OR Average Increase in Annual Rent by 2009

Central OR Regional HA

1,003

292

$1,770

Coos Curry HA

725

211

$1,363

HA and Urban Renewal Agency of Polk

699

203

$1,811

HA of Clackamas County

1,497

435

$2,142

HA of Douglas County

650

189

$1,235

HA of Jackson County

1,414

411

$1,559

HA of Lincoln County

487

142

$1,370

HA of Portland*

7,496

2,181

$1,467

HA of Yamhill County

1,289

375

$1,914

Housing and Community Services Agency of Lane County

2,598

756

$1,754

Josephine Housing Council

827

241

$1,267

Klamath HA

734

214

$1,291

Linn-Benton HA

2,381

693

$1,689

Malheur County HA

339

99

$1,353

Marion County HA

1,168

340

$1,404

Mid Columbia HA

822

239

$1,349

NE Oregon HA

710

207

$1,314

NW Oregon HA

1,075

313

$1,691

Salem HA

2,842

827

$1,581

Siletz Indian HA

37

11

$2,346

Umatilla County HA

329

96

$1,188

Washington County HA

2,535

737

$2,235

Totals

31,657

9,212

Average rent increase

$1,595

Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

The Oregon Center for Public Policy uses research and analysis to advance policies and practices that improve the economic and social prospects of low- and moderate-income Oregonians, the majority of Oregonians.

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