Texas Loses $59 Million for Affordable Housing Due to Sequester

Community Living

Local housing agencies are preparing for federal budget reductions by freezing waiting lists that contain thousands of applicants for rental assistance. Because of federal sequestration, Texas will lose an estimated $50 million in Tenant Based Rental Assistance and another $9.3 million in other affordable housing programs, which will hurt many people with disabilities. This is part of across-the-board cuts to help control the national budget, which started on March 1, 2013, and affect most federal programs.

Man in wheelchair at home slicing lettuce

Because of federal sequestration, Texas will lose an estimated $50 million in Tenant Based Rental Assistance and another $9.3 million in other affordable housing programs, which will hurt many people with disabilities.

A letter from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to Governor Rick Perry indicates 8,500 Texas families will lose Tenant Based Rental Assistance. This program provides rental subsidies for up to three years. Many individuals use it to help achieve self-sustainability or to obtain affordable housing until they qualify for a Housing Choice Voucher, also called a Section 8 voucher.

Last year, Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities staff and other advocates recommended that the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs extend the TBRA assistance to the current three years in Texas, instead of the previous limit of two. That rule change also allows assistance to continue another two years for people with disabilities based on their individual circumstance if it is used to avoid institutionalization.

While TDHCA has not received official word yet on the precise amount of budget reductions under sequestration, HUD is preparing to cut 100,000 Section 8 vouchers nationwide and other programs are making cuts, too. For example, local housing authorities in Fort Worth voided recently-issued vouchers before households could use them. Local officials predicted that 600 or more families in Tarrant County could lose Section 8, and more than 900 families in Houston could lose their assistance, as well as other cuts across the state.

In Other Housing News

  • TDHCA was awarded $12 million in February 2013 in Section 811 Project Rental Assistance Demonstration Program funds from HUD. TDHCA is also waiting for official guidance on how sequestration will affect this. The state’s health and human services agencies are partnering in this effort. These funds are intended for Texans with disabilities living in institutions who want to move to the community, people with serious mental illness, and youth with disabilities exiting foster care. TDHCA selected seven metropolitan areas for pilot projects: Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, Brownsville-Harlingen, Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, El Paso, Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, and San Antonio-New Braunfels.
  • A recent report indicates there are just 30 affordable and available units in the United States for every 100 households with an income at or below 30% of the area median income. The report, America’s Affordable Housing Shortage and How to End It, states that almost one-third of all households classified as extremely low income are headed by a person with a disability, and 41% of extremely low income households include a person with a disability.

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