In mid-March, the Trump administration released a partial outline of its 2018 budget, which proposes billions of dollars in funding cuts to most government agencies, including the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
If Trump’s budget passes, HUD is expected to lose approximately $6.2 billion next year – a 13.2% change from 2016.
These deep cuts to HUD would exacerbate America’s affordable housing crisis, according to Habitat for Humanity CEO Jonathan Reckford.
“If the White House budget were to become the actual budget – and we realize it’s more of a political statement than a true budget – it would be devastating to affordable housing in the US,” he tells Business Insider.
Founded in 1976, Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization that has built homes for over 9.8 million people worldwide. The nonprofit’s latest campaign, Home is the Key, is fundraising during April to raise money for more houses in the US. The goal is to address the nation’s affordable housing crisis.
One woman who recently qualified for a Habitat house in the US works three jobs, and devoted hundreds of hours to help build her own house, Reckford says.
Trump’s proposed budget would kill local improvement initiatives and anti-poverty programs, including Community Development Block Grants, HOME Investment Partnerships, and the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program.
Land prices rose after the 2008 recession, but incomes have not increased with them, Reckford says.
“We already have a huge housing deficit, and so pulling back on federal funding and eliminating all those programs would ripple across the whole housing sector,” Reckford says. “What we’re going to see is, everywhere along the housing sector, more negative results if we disinvest from housing.”
Instead, he says the US should look to leverage public, private, and nonprofit funds for housing assistance.
“We need to be investing more in housing,” he says. “The idea that we would be eliminating a whole series of effective programs is a step in the completely wrong direction.”
Reckford also predicts that if Trump’s budget is approved, the US will see consequences in healthcare and education. If the US were to divest billions from HUD, environmental hazards that lead to health issues for residents, like mold or unsanitary water, could become more common.
“The data is really clear: People that grow up in safe housing stay healthier and do better in school, and then they’re able to take care of themselves,” he says. “When you disinvest in housing, you get the opposite. We’ll actually have to invest more in healthcare and more in education. The home is the foundation for kids to build decent lives for themselves.”