At the Downtown Women's Center, we rely on federal assistance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to operate the programs that end homelessness for women every day. One of those women, Darlene, was in her twenties when she became homeless. Forced to find a new place to live after her mother's death, Darlene struggled to find anything – Los Angeles's high rental prices and lack of affordable housing made her search impossible. What's more, Darlene lives with disabling health conditions that prevent her from holding a regular job. She spent seven years staying in parks, beaches, transitional housing, and, sometimes, the emergency room. For Darlene, an unaccompanied woman, homelessness was a dangerous, traumatic experience.
Eventually, Darlene began working with a case manager at DWC to begin the process of finding housing. Shortly thereafter, she received a HUD voucher through the Continuum of Care Bonus Program. Darlene moved into a safe, affordable unit in Los Angeles just weeks after her 35th birthday. Since then, her health and wellbeing have drastically improved. With a roof over her head and regular access to medical treatment, she is able to manage her health conditions and no longer spends nights in the emergency room as a last resort. Unfortunately, the Federal budget proposal would devastate opportunities like this for the 14,000 women experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County.
The recently released federal budget plan proposes slashes funding for HUD programs by more than $6 billion -- the largest funding reduction in decades. HUD's diminished budget would be devastating for cities in California, a state in the midst of an affordable housing crisis. The budget eliminates funding for the HOME Investment Partnership program, which helps local governments build new affordable housing (California received $129.5 million from this program last year). Funding for the Community Development Block Grant and the Community Services Block Grant, which cities like Los Angeles rely on for housing development and services, would be cut entirely. Furthermore, spending limitations would force HUD to cut federal Section 8 vouchers by 200,000. In turn, Los Angeles would lose between 4,000 and 5,000 Section 8 vouchers. These are just a few examples of how this budget would pose a catastrophic blow to a city that's taken vital steps to end homelessness in recent months.
The budget the Trump administration is considering would negate years of progress toward ending homelessness across the country.
Hundreds of thousands of individuals like Darlene would lose opportunities for safe, affordable housing. Homelessness rates across the country would likely skyrocket.
Fortunately, we have an opportunity to advocate for the federal programs we know are effective. Now, it’s time for us to work together to urge our Congressmembers to stand up for marginalized communities and maintain funding for all critical affordable housing programs. You can join us in writing a letter or making a phone call to your Members of Congress here.
As new developments in homelessness policy continue to unfold, we remain deeply committed to our mission, standing with the women we serve who’ve been made to feel invisible for too long. We thank you for continuing to stand with us as we fight to end homelessness for good.