Proposed HUD funding cuts could impact thousands in Austin

Austin Habitat for Humanity Community (KXAN Photo)
Austin Habitat for Humanity Community (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — There’s growing concern over President Donald Trump and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson proposing more than $6 billion in cuts to affordable housing programs.

Carson has expressed his desire to see affordable housing programs and projects become less reliant on federal funding, and instead turn to local governments, private investors, and non-profit organizations for support.

Several Austin-area organizations say they simply can’t help as many people if the federal money goes away.

“We can’t do it without… these federal funding sources,” said Austin Habitat for Humanity CEO Phyllis Snodgrass.

Snodgrass says federal money accounts for nearly 20 percent of the organization’s yearly budget for home building. The federal money is mainly used for purchasing land on which to build homes for families who would otherwise struggle to find affordable housing.

Jacqueline Perez’s family currently has a place to call their own thanks to the help of Austin Habitat for Humanity. Perez hopes more families will be able to benefit from the non-profit.

“I really hope that the federal funding continues so that other families can enjoy the same blessing, have a future for their children, for themselves,” Perez said.

Nationally, Habitat for Humanity is set to lose $200-$300 million in federal money if proposed cuts are approved. Locally, Austin’s Foundation Communities‘ ability to grow would dramatically diminish should the cuts go through. The organization builds multi-unit affordable housing in Austin.

“If we go to build an apartment community in Austin, it could be $10-$20 million,” said executive director Walter Moreau. “Eighty percent of that comes from federal funds. We can’t grow without support from federal funding.”

Moreau says Foundation Communities help more than 6,000 people in Austin, and the cuts could hurt the chances of the thousands more waiting for units to become available.

Foundation Communities and Austin Habitat for Humanity will join other groups Saturday to hold a rally outside Austin City Hall to voice support for increased federal funding for affordable housing initiatives and programs.

The cuts are part of President Trump’s early budget proposal, which will be debated by lawmakers this fall.

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