CCUSA asks Senate for increased housing program investments for vulnerable populations

June 29, 2021

The Honorable Brian Schatz Chairman
Subcommittee on Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations United States Senate Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Susan Collins Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations United States Senate Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Chairman Schatz and Ranking Member Collins:

Our Catholic organizations work with Congress every year on a range of our priorities, including protecting migrants, supporting the poor and vulnerable, and protecting the unborn. As you consider the Fiscal Year 2022 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies appropriations bill, we encourage you to increase investments for housing programs serving families and individuals who are poor and vulnerable.

The country is beginning to emerge from the devastating coronavirus pandemic which dealt an economic shock to millions of households. Congress has done important work to protect these families and individuals from losing their homes through support for vital housing and homelessness assistance programs, but that work is not done. Even before the pandemic struck, homelessness was increasing and nearly a quarter of renter households paid over half their income for housing. People of color experienced housing insecurity at much higher rates than their white peers because of generations of discrimination and disinvestment. Meanwhile, federal discretionary spending on housing assistance has fallen to historic lows as a percentage of GDP. Even as the number of households struggling to keep a roof over their heads has increased, the number receiving federal rental assistance has remained stagnant. Flat funding for housing and community development programs acts as a cut to vital services. An increase in funding for housing programs is needed to address the shortage of affordable housing supply, keep pace with market rates to maintain housing for at least the same number of people currently served, and reduce existing inequities.

In our pastoral statement The Right to a Decent Home, the Catholic bishops of the United States have said and continue to believe, “Since decent housing is a human right, its provision involves a public responsibility. Government must supplement and regulate the activities of private individuals and institutions in order to achieve our housing goals. A creative partnership of private enterprise and government is necessary” (no. 75). The Catholic Church, inclusive of all its ministries, is one of the largest private providers of housing services for the poor and vulnerable in the country. We serve as many as we can, yet lack the resources to assist all our brothers and sisters in need. In 2020, Catholic Charities agencies provided housing services to over 180,000 people and homelessness services to nearly 403,000. Despite these efforts, Catholic Charities agencies have over 73,000 households across the country on waiting lists for housing. In response to such widespread unmet need, HUD programs need more resources, not less.

We urge an increase to the HUD budget to provide robust funding for the following programs:

In addition to the above programs, increased support for the Section 4 Capacity Development Block Grant, Housing for People with AIDS (HOPWA) and with Disabilities (Section 811), and Veterans Affairs Supported Housing (HUD- VASH) is necessary in order to continue to serve poor and vulnerable families across our country. Further, the freedom of faith-based shelters to continue serving thousands of people in need at this time without violating their beliefs or the safety of their clients should be protected in any appropriations measure.

Robust investments in federal housing programs equip families and communities with the resources they need to thrive. The above programs satisfy the basic human right to shelter and should receive special attention, and thus, have our strong support as we continue to serve those in need.

Thank you for your consideration and support of people and families in need of stable housing.


Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley Archbishop of Oklahoma City
Chairman, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Sr. Donna Markham, OP, Ph.D. Executive Director
Catholic Charities USA

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