Sen. Murray lays out concerns with President Trump’s proposed 15 percent cut to Department of Housing and Urban Development budget

Trump-Carson proposal would dramatically reduce funding for instrumental programs like HOME, CDBG and rental assistance that support critical Washington state housing and homelessness prevention programs

Sen. Murray also questioned Sec. Carson’s position on proven results of the Housing First model, pioneered by Seattle’s Downtown Emergency Service Center

Sen. Murray: Proposed cuts particularly cruel in light of recent report finding that nearly 12,000 people in Seattle and King County are currently experiencing homelessness

(Washington, D.C.) –  Today, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior Democrat on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee overseeing housing, questioned Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Sec. Ben Carson about President Trump’s proposal to slash 15 percent from the housing budget, including programs supporting critical efforts in Washington state to eradicate homelessness and increase access to affordable housing. Sen. Murray questioned Sec. Carson on HUD’s misplaced budget priorities in light of a recent report finding homelessness and housing insecurity on the rise in Washington state, asking Sec. Carson directly about HUD’s plan for combatting homelessness in Washington state and nationwide in addition to requesting clarity on his position regarding the effectiveness of Housing First interventions that prioritize moving homeless families and individuals into permanent homes as swiftly as possible.

Sen. Murray has been a consistent champion for HUD programs that work to get people off the street and into safe, appropriate housing, including McKinney Vento, Section 8 vouchers, and HUD-VASH, helping to restart the initiative for homeless veterans in 2008. Sen. Murray questioned Sec. Carson about his budget’s proposal to slash funding for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) that reduce homelessness across Washington state. In addition to questions on homelessness, Sen. Murray also asked Sec. Carson to explain the Department’s position on several housing issues impacting Washington state families, including HUD’s formula for calculating Section 8 housing that must account for rising housing prices in cities like Vancouver, Tacoma, and Seattle, and proposed cuts to programs supporting affordable housing and offering rental assistance.

Watch Sen. Murray’s questions to Sec. Carson here.

Questions from Sen. Murray to Sec. Carson, as prepared for delivery:

Secretary Carson, the fight against homelessness is one that many towns, cities, and states across the country are engaged in, but it is a particular struggle for states like mine—Washington state-- that are experiencing huge spikes in rents or near-zero vacancy rates. This is happening in communities across the state. The City of Seattle and King County have been operating under states of emergency regarding homelessness since late 2015. Just last week, a new report showed there were nearly 12,000 people experiencing homelessness in Seattle and King County alone. Some were sleeping in shelters, but about half were sleeping on park benches and in cars. That’s a heartbreaking number. Local communities in Washington state are stepping up by increasing their housing levies and dedicating additional resources. The federal government should step up too. Secretary Carson—if we can show you that investments like HOME and CDBG work to reduce homelessness in my home state and states across the country—would you commit to working with us to reverse these massive cuts in your proposed budget?

Mr. Secretary, I understand from some of your comments in the press that you may not understand the importance of the Housing First model, which recognizes that the most successful way to move individuals out of homelessness is to get them into housing and provide them any supportive services they might need to stay housed. The Downtown Emergency Service Center in Seattle is a model and pioneer of Housing First when it began using the model 20 years ago. And it has shown us clearly that having a substance misuse disorder should not be a barrier to housing assistance – that way of thinking just doesn’t work. Mr. Secretary, do you support the goals of the Housing First model?

Mr. Secretary, I know HUD works under challenging budgetary constraints, particularly with respect to Fiscal Year 2018. But I have to say that I find HUD’s proposed budget to be especially troubling in asking for a 15% cut. With rents rising and an increased need for new affordable housing, I do not see how it is possible for HUD to fulfill its essential role with so few resources. The department requests a cut of nearly three billion dollars to rental assistance programs alone. Mr. Secretary, how can you propose such a substantial cut to rental assistance, which so many families need to keep a roof over their heads? How could a cut this large not end up throwing families out on the street?

Region 10, based in Seattle, has benefited from strong leadership over the past few years from both Donna Batch and Bill Block. I have heard time and again from stakeholders across the state that the region has been attentive to their needs, and it is important that cooperative spirit continues. It is essential that you move swiftly to nominate a Regional Administrator who shares their passion, dedication, and experience in housing matters and who can build upon the progress that has been made. I would be happy to assist you in identifying individuals from my region with the appropriate experience and relationships with our housing community so they can hit the ground running. Secretary Carson, I encourage you to move swiftly to select a new Regional Administrator for Region 10, and I look forward to working with you on that process.