A national network of funders supporting strategic, innovative, and effective solutions to homelessness

Philanthropy Cannot “Fill the Gaps” During Government Shutdown

Whenever there is a reduction in government funding, it is often assumed that the private sector can step up and fill in the gaps. This government shutdown is no exception.

Without a hint of when the government will reopen, philanthropy has, and will be asked even more as this continues, to invest additional resources to sustain their communities, but this isn’t a long-term solution to a political crisis. Philanthropy cannot replace the role of government in providing long-term basic needs and funding for emergencies should be used for things like natural disasters. It is not strategic, effective, or sustainable to ask philanthropy to use resources that could be better spent on long-term solutions or innovation, for man-made crisis that can be resolved. The only solution is to reopen our government to provide much needed funding for affordable housing and homelessness programs, as well as to reinstate pay for government contractors who may live paycheck to paycheck.

On behalf of philanthropy, Funders Together to End Homelessness is committed to working with our national partners to stress the importance of reopening the government and passing a budget that will protect people at risk of and currently experiencing homelessness. Funders Together has signed on to the following press release urging the Administration and Congress to work in alignment in order end the shutdown and its harmful effects on individuals and families.

Read the full press release below. This release was originally published January 9, 2019 on the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s website here.

Affordable Housing Leaders Demand End to the Government Shutdown & Passage of Full-Year Spending Bills

A coalition of more than 70 national organizations tell the Administration & Congress that people with the lowest incomes will be hit hardest if the shutdown continues.

Washington, DC - Members of the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding(CHCDF) sent a letter to congressional leaders today calling on them to protect low-income Americans by ending the government shutdown and passing full-year spending bills that provide strong funding for affordable housing and community development programs.

CHCDF, a coalition led by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, expressed strong concern for the shutdown’s immediate and long-term impacts on affordable housing programs and the low-income people they serve. The letter also called out the shutdown’s impact on the housing stability of low-wage government contractors, like janitors, security guards, and cafeteria servers, who often live paycheck-to-paycheck. These individuals working without pay are at risk of being unable to cover their rent payments, putting them at risk of eviction.

The government shutdown is thwarting critical investments in local communities and in affordable and accessible housing for low-income families, threatening to destabilize over four million households that depend on HUD’s rental assistance programs and creating widespread uncertainty for affordable housing investors.

“The longer the shutdown continues, the more the lowest income people will be hard hit,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. “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. They rely on government assistance to remain housed, and a prolonged government shutdown puts them at increased risk of eviction and potentially homelessness. 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.”

“The partial government shutdown is a disaster for the millions of low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities who depend on HUD assistance for safe, stable housing,” said Council of Large Public Housing Authorities Executive Director Sunia Zaterman. “Funding uncertainty puts more than two million voucher households at risk of losing their homes, and a lack of operating fund payments will force public housing authorities to shut units that cannot be repaired or properly maintained.”

“The bottom line for us is care and concern for the people we serve, and the shutdown hurts them,” said CSH President and CEO Deborah De Santis. “Every hour the deadlock drags on means people who really need housing and services are not going to get them. And the longer critical agencies stay shuttered the more likely it is families, children and other individuals now counting on help to stay housed and healthy will have their lifelines cut off.”

“Each day of the shutdown makes it harder and harder for the nearly 10 million people who live in HUD-assisted housing – low-income families, people with disabilities, veterans, and the elderly – to avoid eviction, keep their heat turned on, and access health care and supportive services,” said Enterprise Community Partners President Laurel Blatchford. “Congress and the Administration must find a way to restore funding for programs critical to the livelihoods of Americans across the country.”

“As the shutdown continues, HUD has made clear it will become unable to renew rental assistance contracts for housing providers,” said LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan. “LeadingAge’s members, all nonprofits, rely on regular and adequate funding to provide quality affordable housing to some of the nation’s lowest-income older adults. The average older adult in HUD’s Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program has an annual income of $13,300, an income far too little to make ends meet in any private housing market. More than 400,000 older adults rely on the Section 202 program, while another 1.2 million rely on other HUD programs for housing assistance. We urge Congress and the White House to end the shutdown so that each of these 1.6 million older adults have the stable housing they need to age with dignity.”

“Local governments rely on consistent contact with HUD in order to ensure reliable funding for services, projects and developments funded with grant programs like the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnerships program,” said National Association for County Community and Economic Development Executive Director Laura DeMaria. “These programs provide vital services and resources to low-income families across the country. As long as HUD remains shut down, local governments, their community partners, and the low-income families they serve will lack the stability and constant flow of funds they need to operate.”

“This shutdown is hurting families across the country whether or not they work for the federal government and prolonging it will make matters worse,” said NAHRO CEO Adrianne Todman. “Capital expenses that require approval from HUD employees are left undone, and housing vouchers are not reaching families in need as housing agencies curtail additional spending. We should be especially concerned about the public- and private-sector landlords in the project-based rental assistance program who are left without funding and/or contract renewals. Those who can are already dipping into their reserves to make repairs and respond to their residents’ needs, but these reserves only go so far. This is unacceptable. End the shutdown.”

“Vulnerable Americans are the casualty of the current political battle. As a partial federal shutdown drags on, essential federal housing programs and tenant protections are in jeopardy,” said National Housing Law Project Executive Director Shamus Roller.   

“The needless government shutdown has put the lowest-income residents at risk and left private rental housing owners scrambling to cover operating costs for which the federal government is contractually responsible,” said National Housing Trust Federal Policy Director Ellen Lurie Hoffman. “This threatens seniors, people with disabilities, and families who are struggling to make ends meet, as well as the viability of critically important affordable housing properties.”

Read the complete letter outlining the impact of the shutdown on specific affordable housing programs at: https://bit.ly/2RkB8Xd 

Join the National Call on the Shutdown's Impact on Affordable Housing & Community Development
Tuesday, January 15 | 4:00 pm EST / 1:00pm PST

The National Low Income Housing Coalition and leaders of the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding are hosting a national call on Tuesday, January 15th focused on shutdown’s impacts on affordable housing and community development programs. It will provide updates on the latest information and guidance on how advocates can engage lawmakers to help end the shutdown.

We encourage you to join the call to learn how communities are being impacted and stay informed on opportunities to engage during this political crisis.

More Updates From Our Partners On The Shutdown

We joined Funders Together because we believe in the power of philanthropy to play a major role in ending homelessness, and we know we have much to learn from funders across the country.

-Christine Marge, Director of Housing and Financial Stability at United Way of Greater Los Angeles

I am thankful for the local partnerships here in the Pacific Northwest that we’ve been able to create and nurture thanks to the work of Funders Together. Having so many of the right players at the table makes our conversations – and all of our efforts – all the richer and more effective.

-David Wertheimer, Deputy Director at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Very often a lack of jobs and money is not the cause of poverty, but the symptom. The cause may lie deeper in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities, in a lack of education and training, in a lack of medical care and housing, in a lack of decent communities in which to live and bring up their children.

-President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964 State of the Union Address

Funders Together has given me a platform to engage the other funders in my community. Our local funding community has improved greatly to support housing first models and align of resources towards ending homelessness.

-Leslie Strnisha, Vice President at Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland

Our family foundation convenes local funders and key community stakeholders around strategies to end homelessness in Houston. Funders Together members have been invaluable mentors to us in this effort, traveling to our community to share their expertise and examples of best practices from around the nation.

-Nancy Frees Fountain, Managing Director at The Frees Foundation

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