budget cuts

There is no getting around it; the federal budget appropriations process is messy. Despite comparisons, our nation’s budget is not analogous to a family budget that you or I would prepare. At billions of dollars in size, hundreds of pages in length, its own office within the White House, and a committee in each chamber of Congress – it stands alone. Not to mention that its lack of passage brought the federal government within hours of shutting down this April. However, given its integral role in the country’s operations the constant attention that it is receiving on Capitol Hill is warranted. Regardless of party affiliation, there is broad agreement that the next budget address the need for deficit reduction and more revenue generation. Elected officials disagree on how to get there, but the end goal is the same: a more financially stable country.

Efforts to do so have seen proposals where “everything is on the table” and demands for deep cuts across the board have been made; this includes the operating budget for the U.S. Department for Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD submits its own budget proposal, the President does the same, and finally Congress determines the final allocations. For comparison’s sake, the enacted budget for HUD in FY10 was $43.5 billion (National Low-Income Housing Coalition, 2011) and the agency has requested $47.9 billion (HUD, 2011) for FY12; FY11 was omitted due to the lack of a budget through Congress. Though these appear to be large figures, when looked at in the context of the entire budget, perception shrinks them considerably. President Obama’s proposed budget includes a request for $41.7 billion for all housing assistance programs, which works out to 1.59% of the nation’s total budget for FY12 (Office of Management and Budget, 2011).

The pie chart for how HUD allocates their funds is refreshingly simple. Though there are only three slices nearly three-quarters (72%) of their budget goes toward rental assistance, and of those HUD-assisted households, 72 percent of them are classified as “extremely low-income” meaning that they fall below 30% of area median income (HUD, 2011).
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