Today marks the second time the bipartisan budget conference will meet to discuss a short-term budget deal which all Americans hope will save the country from yet another disastrous game of Washington chicken. As Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and Democratic key player Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Chairman of the House Budget Committee and Republican key player and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) work together to find a solution, we, the affordable housing industry, must continue to advocate for the importance of low-income housing and community development programs.

Last month, a NAHRO commissioned poll found that 41 percent of respondents agreed that sequester cuts should not apply to federally subsidized programs that assist vulnerable populations including the elderly, poor, children and disabled. Troublingly, 36 percent answered “not sure” and 23 percent disagreed.

Another survey question asked whether, regardless of the respondent’s views on the federal budget deficit, they agreed or dis- agreed that the federal government should continue to assist low-income families and seniors, veterans and disabled in acquiring decent, safe and affordable housing. Over two-thirds – 67 percent – agreed, with 19 percent answering “not sure” and 14 percent disagreeing.

Respondents also showed support for specific HCD-related initiatives such as adding affordable housing funds to infrastructure repair bills (55 percent supported this, 23 percent were not sure and another 23 percent opposed it), the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (59 percent for it, 21 percent against it, and 20 percent unsure) and the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) (54 percent in support, 23 percent against and 23 percent unsure).

While the data does indicate substantial support for housing and community development programs, it also signals that much the American public does not know specifically how our programs help our most vulnerable populations. It is our responsibility as housers to educate all Americans through outreach to our local, regional and national news outlets, social and new media and grassroots advocacy efforts on the importance of safe, decent and affordable housing.

If you are interested in joining the fight to protect housing and community development, sign up to be a Congressional District Contact (CDC). This group is NAHRO’s legislative team on the ground, a loud voice for housing and able to take quick action when needed.

You can also take small daily actions that help to make a big difference. Call, email or tweet your members of the House and/or Senate asking them to include affordable housing and HCD programs in the budget conversation. Be sure to tell them that any further sequester cuts would be devastating to our daily and long-term operations.

Every day we sit silently by, the more dollars our programs will lose. Now is the time to make a stand and speak up. Join NAHRO in the national fight to preserve funding for the programs that are the safety nets for many families across the country.

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