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With Department of Housing and Urban Development closed due to Trump Shutdown, new affordable housing units cannot be built, homebuyers cannot access FHA loans

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined 170 members of Congress in a bicameral letter to President Trump highlighting the direct and immediate consequences of the government shutdown on housing security for more than four million households across the country. In the letter, the members of Congress urged the president to immediately reopen the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) so it can resume its rental assistance initiatives that support many American families.

“This partial shutdown is undermining both the short-term operations and long-term viability of our affordable housing programs that serve over four million Americans, the majority of whom are seniors and people with disabilities living on a fixed income,” the members of Congress wrote. “For the sake of the families whose homes are at stake, we urge you to end the shutdown and protect the American people.”

Since the partial shutdown began, HUD has been forced to scramble to find funds to renew federal contracts for over 650 project-based rental assistance properties that house tens of thousands of low-income renters across the country. An estimated 2.2 million low-income households are among those at risk of eviction, including housing for thousands of veterans, seniors, and people living with disabilities.

“The American people should not be used as leverage, or be held hostage, to fulfill a political agenda,” the members of Congress continued. “In these times of uncertainty and tension, we must continue to prioritize the American people. We owe it to the people we serve to choose their best interest over politics.”

Senator Cantwell has made affordable housing a top priority in her work in the Senate. In July 2018, she introduced legislation seeking to better understand and respond to America’s housing crisis by creating a bipartisan affordable housing task force. In March 2018, Cantwell secured a $2.8 billion increase in the Low Income Housing Tax Credit over the next four years – the first increase in over a decade. In addition to her vocal efforts urging President Trump and Senate Republicans to reopen the government, as a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee Senator Murray has helped secure increased investments in key federal housing programs.

Text of the letter can be found below:

Dear President Trump:

We write to express our deep concern regarding the harmful impacts the current government shutdown is having on the ability of Americans to afford their homes. This partial shutdown is undermining both the short-term operations and long-term viability of our affordable housing programs that serve over four million Americans, the majority of whom are seniors and people with disabilities living on a fixed income. For the sake of the families whose homes are at stake, we urge you to end the shutdown and protect the American people.

An immediate result of the shutdown is that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has been forced to scramble to find funds to renew federal contracts for over 650 project-based rental assistance properties, housing tens of thousands of low-income renters, that have expired since the government shutdown began. Additional contracts will expire later in January and February, should the shutdown continue, as HUD does not have funding to renew contracts while the government is shut down. HUD proposes that private owners use their individual funding reserves, where available, to cover shortfalls. The longer the shutdown continues, the more untenable this guidance becomes.

Additionally, the shutdown will delay public housing authorities from receiving funding to help address pressing capital needs, such as fixing boilers and repairing leaking roofs. Funding is also dwindling for grants that support developmental projects and programs in local communities that depend on such funding to serve low-income families. Finally, the lapse in federal funding is curbing economic growth as more Americans are unable to purchase homes due to the Federal Housing Authority’s (FHA) delay in processing loans.

The American people should not be used as leverage, or be held hostage, to fulfill a political agenda. The longer we extend the shutdown, the more harm will be done to seniors, families with children, people with disabilities, and other Americans who rely on these programs. We urge you to end this shutdown and provide immediate relief to Americans being impacted by this funding crisis. In these times of uncertainty and tension, we must continue to prioritize the American people. We owe it to the people we serve to choose their best interest over politics.