Massive federal budget cuts, known as sequestration, are continuing to wreak havoc on poorer Americans. One example: More than 2,000 Vermonters in 774 households may lose their homes in the next few months as a result of funding reductions for low-income housing.
This program was initially enacted during the Great Depression and is now popularly known as the “Section 8” voucher system. It helps the working poor afford housing, particularly in costly areas, by requiring them to pay one-third or so of their income on rent; the program covers the rest. However, sequestration is cutting more than $2 billion in low-income housing assistance this year.
Because of this shortfall, Vermont officials are being forced to cut housing assistance for low-income families and individuals in the state. And with average rent in Chittenden County (home to Burlington) at more than $900, poor tenants like Amanda Benson could soon wind up with no option but to live on the street. Benson, a mother of two young boys who has lived in Section 8 housing, was among those 774 households who received bad news last week. Seven Days, an independent news outlet in the state, asked Benson what she would do next. “I don’t know,” she said. “Maybe put ourselves in storage?”
Benson’s story is replicated across the nation, as 140,000 families may lose their housing assistance and be left out in the cold.
Sequestration isn’t just impacting housing, however. It’s already kicked tens of thousands of pre-schoolers off of Head Start, cut Meals on Wheels services for the elderly, and forced devastating budget cuts in schools.