As the July 27 Wonkblog excerpt “For private market, the numbers for building rentals for the poor don’t add up” vividly pointed out, we face an alarming gap between the housing needs of our nation’s poorest families and what is available and affordable to them. Congress has the tools to help meet this need: housing choice vouchers and the National Housing Trust Fund. To end housing insecurity for families with the greatest needs, Congress must increase investments in these programs.

Housing choice vouchers help more than 2.2 million families live in stable, affordable homes by covering the difference between what they can afford to pay and the cost of rent. Despite the program’s success, limited funding means very few eligible families receive this needed assistance.

The National Housing Trust Fund is the first new federal program in a generation dedicated to building, preserving and rehabilitating affordable rental housing for the lowest-income families. While the first fund allocation of $174 million is an important step, much more is necessary to meet the existing need.

A lack of affordable housing leaves families with difficult and painful choices between paying the rent or paying for healthy food, transportation or child care. A safe and decent home one can afford is the foundation for success in every aspect of one’s life. Investing in homes — through an expansion of housing choice vouchers and the National Housing Trust Fund — is a much-needed investment in education, health care and economic stability.

Diane Yentel, Washington

The writer is president and chief executive of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.