Trump’s defense-first budget puts need of Minnesotans last

In framing the merits of his dangerous budget, President Trump stated that “without safety, there can be no prosperity.” He’s right. Without a safe, affordable place to call home, families and communities cannot thrive. And Trump’s budget puts thousands of vulnerable Minnesotans in additional peril.  In a sense, the Trump budget provides for a wall but many fewer roofs.

Minnesota Housing Partnership’s recently released study, State of the State’s Housing 2017, provides context for the proposed budget cuts.  We report that across Minnesota one in four households is lacking housing affordability — a percentage that will surely increase as resources for this critical need are siphoned away under Trump’s defense-first budget.

More than one-quarter of Minnesotans already face difficult tradeoffs to pay the rent

While many homeowners are struggling to keep up with mortgage payments, the greater challenge is one facing low-income renters. More than one-quarter of renter households are now severely cost burdened, paying more than 50 percent of their income toward housing, likely making painful sacrifices for food, health care and other needs simply to pay the rent.

These tradeoffs aren’t hypothetical. National research has found that low-income households paying more than half their income on housing spend 41 percent less on food and 74 percent less on healthcare than similar families that are affordably housed.

The need for affordable housing resources is growing

Despite years of strong economic growth, rents are still increasing far faster than incomes. Between 2000 and 2015, the median rent in Minnesota increased 9 percent while the income of the average renter decreased 11 percent.

These challenges are likely to persist — or grow. Our report shows that four of the six top in-demand job types in Minnesota do not pay enough to cover rent on a modest two-bedroom apartment. Over the next several years Minnesota will add tens of thousands of retail sales workers, food preparers, cashiers, and personal care attendants, most of whom will not be able to cover their housing costs.

Then there is the aging baby boom. Our population is expected to add 39,000 seniors per year over the next 20 years. Nearly one-third of that growth will be seniors living primarily on social security, providing nowhere near the income necessary to cover the cost of housing.

Trump’s budget in Minnesota

This is why Congress cannot accept the housing budget proposed by President Trump. According to projections from Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, with this budget Minnesota would:

  • Receive a cut of $24 million in funding to maintain the state’s public housing. With a preexisting backlog of $300 million in needed repairs, much of this housing primarily serving elderly and disabled people will no longer be viable.
  • Lose $61 million in federal block grants that Minnesota communities use to fix streets, build affordable housing, and help low income people pay for home repairs.
  • Be unable to continue to provide rent assistance to 2,800 Minnesotan households, families who on average have annual incomes of $14,000, and will have few other housing options.

To prioritize safety and prosperity, prioritize stable, affordable housing 

President Trump’s budget may put military might first, but it puts the true safety and prosperity of Minnesotans last. Housing is just one area in which Trump’s proposal undermines this country’s bipartisan efforts to create a foundation of opportunity. We call for our Congressional delegation to loudly resist this budget and defend Minnesota.