The Trump shutdown of HUD and other federal agencies has already dragged on for 19 days, the longest in US history, with no end in sight! HUD tenants are already feeling the sting.
On Monday, January 7, HUD announced that no funds are available to renew 1,150 Section 8 contracts that expired in December 2018 and January 2019, or another 550 contracts that expire in February 2019 or beyond. An estimated 100,000 low income households--elderly, people with disabilities and families with children-- already face repair and service cutbacks, and could face rent increases and displacement, if HUD funds are not restored soon.
Worse, another 21,150 Section 8 contracts housing 1.1 million low income renters have been funded only through February. There is no evidence that HUD has funds for these properties if the shutdown continues into March, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.
In addition, HUD does not have funds to continue subsidies after February for 2.2 million more Section 8 Voucher recipients, administered by local housing authorities. For all Section 8 tenants, owners could attempt to terminate the leases low income tenants unable to pay rents three or four times what they pay today, to cover operating costs if HUD subsidies are terminated.
Trump has threatened to make the shutdown last for “months or years” if he doesn’t get his Wall. If the shutdown lasts past February, a total of 3.4 million Section 8 tenants could lose their homes.
On January 2, the newly elected House voted to approve a HUD Appropriations bill, previously passed by the Republican Senate, to fully fund Section 8. But Republican Leader McConnell refuses to bring this or any other funding bill to the Senate Floor, unless Trump will sign it, and Trump has vowed to reject any bill until Congress provides $5.6 billion for the Wall. Democrats demand that Congress reopen closed agencies first, and debate “border security” and the Wall separately.
For a good explanation of how Section 8 contracts work and the threats to HUD tenants, see the NBC articles below and this blog post from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.
Also see NAHT's resource page for articles about the impact of the shutdown on current low-income tenants.
What Tenants Can Do To Save Our Homes
- Find the buildings whose contracts have already expired and are not yet funded. You can check if your building has a Section 8 contract expiring soon on through NLIHC's map here or through their spreadsheet here. If your building is on this list, most likely HUD funds have ALREADY been cut from your building! Owners and managers can see if they have been receiving payments from HUD through their online database system, called LOCCS (HUDs Line of Credit Control System). Contact the owner and manager of your building and ask them if they have funds available in their LOCCS account have been receiving payments through LOCCS.
- Line up tenant leaders for quotes in media stories about the cuts--issue a press release and contact local media, to make tenant voices heard! Use the press release from the NAHT Board for quotes and messaging. If you can, organize a press conference at a housing development, city agency, HUD office or local Senator’s office--invite elected officials to join tenants to protest the cuts! Let NAHT know of affected tenants willing to talk to national media! NAHT has been contacted by national media outlets, including NBC News, looking for tenants to interview at affected buildings. Contact NAHT at 617-522-4523 or email@example.com
- Mobilize tenants to tell Congress to approve HUD funding NOW, especially in buildings with expiring contracts where you have tenant contacts. If you don’t, doorknock and post flyers letting tenants know that their building is directly affected and the information they need to contact their Senator, including a call-in script. Click here to find your Senator or Representative, especially Republicans who have refused to fund HUD. In particular, tell Republican Senators to pass the Appropriations Bill they supported before the shutdown started! Organize phone banks to call your Senator, or ask tenants to call while doorknocking.
Message: “I’m a <senior, disabled, family> Section 8 tenant at <your development>. Without Section 8, my rent could triple or quadruple overnight and I would lose my home. I’m one of 3.4 million Section 8 tenants who could lose our homes if the shutdown lasts through February. My home should not be held hostage to Trump’s Wall!”
For Democrats: Thank them for their support to pass the HUD budget NOW.
For Republican Senators: Demand that they tell Majority Leader McConnell to bring the HUD funding bill to the Senate Floor and pass it NOW!
For Republican Representatives (House): Demand they vote to support the HUD funding bill and override Trump’s veto. A vote against the HUD bill is a vote to throw people out of their homes.
- Start a social media campaign. Post your messages to Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Find your Senator’s Twitter handle here and your Representatives Twitter handle here.. Organize Twitter users to tweet on the same day or in a specific time window using the same hashtag to get your topic “trending”.
- Organize a postcard campaign demanding your Congresspeople pass the Appropriations bill to reopen the government! You can organize press and social media when postcards are delivered to local offices. See NAHT's postcard and phone bank tip sheet here!
- Keep NAHT posted of your local actions! We will post them on NAHT’s Facebook page and website. Join NAHT’s weekly Strategy Calls as long as the shutdown lasts. Contact the NAHT office to join the list serve. The calls are currently every Wednesday at 12:30 pm EST.
DISLCALIMER: VISTA Volunteers are not permitted to lobby for or against legislation.