Fact of the Week: 85 Percent of Critical Human Needs Programs Have Lost Ground Since 2010
Out of the more than 160 programs tracked by CHN that assist low-income people, 139 saw funding cuts from FY2010 through FY2016 after taking inflation into account. But it wasn’t just inflation eroding the value of the funding. New research by CHN found that nearly half of the programs (67 of them, to be exact) were cut by 15 percent or more, and nearly one-third (54) were slashed by 25 percent or more. Only 25 programs, or 15 percent of them, actually received an increase in funding over this time.
Among the programs that have seen substantial reductions over this period are ones to prevent childhood lead poisoning and promote healthy homes (cut by 55.6 percent since FY10); job training for adults and youth (each cut about 14 percent); and job training to assist ex-offenders reintegrating into their communities (down 26.2 percent). In addition, substance abuse treatment programs were slashed by 33 percent over these years; the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has been cut nearly 40 percent over this time; state grants for adult education has lost 15 percent of its value since FY10; and the Public Housing Capital Fund has lost twice that. You can see details on how all 164 programs fared here.
These findings are especially concerning given the recent victory advocates celebrated with the passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act last fall, which largely prevented the scheduled sequestration cuts from taking place. Had the compromise last fall not been achieved, and had sequestration taken effect, these programs would have been much worse off. But even with this victory, many programs have been on the chopping block over the last years.
As we noted in a previous Fact of the Week, programs serving low-income Americans fared considerable worse than others in the FY16 omnibus spending bill, receiving less than half the average increase given to other non-defense programs. And each program that’s been cut equals low-income Americans that have been turned away from getting the help they need. In that previous Fact, we noted that we must hold members of Congress accountable for their rhetoric on reducing poverty and their related actions: are they funding or cutting the programs that help?
The total for FY 2017 appropriations is about the same as this year’s, and increases required for certain programs will mean funding will be very tight. CHN’s new research shows how important it will be for Congress to provide a fairer share of the money available to the program areas serving low-income people in FY 2017 and in the years ahead.