The House Committee on Financial Services marked up its “Views and Estimates” for the FY13 concurrent budget resolution on March 6. The Committee’s Views and Estimates primarily contains criticism of the Administration’s FY13 budget request for HUD programs, but includes some scattered praise.
Regarding the Tenant-Based Rental Assistance program, the Committee took the position that the program should not be expanded and should be reformed to serve more people with the current level of funding. The Committee stated that “Section 8 recipients who are neither elderly nor disabled should be encouraged to move toward self-sufficiency.”
The Committee expressed concern that HUD’s proposal to provide short term contracts for the Project-Based Rental Assistance program would only push renewal costs off to subsequent fiscal years. The Views and Estimates does state that the Committee will work on HUD’s proposal to shift public housing units to long term project-based contracts. The Administration’s budget request included a Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) proposal to convert 60,000 units of public housing to project-based contracts (see related article elsewhere in Memo on HUD’s RAD program). Other public housing plans for the Committee include examining the “prohibition of demolition-only grants, one-for-one replacement requirements, and tenant eligibility standards.”
In reference to the Administration’s requested increase for Homeless Assistance Grants, the Committee stated that it will monitor the administrative changes to consolidate McKinney-Vento programs.
Committee comments on the HOME Investment Partnerships programs focused on oversight issues it raised during 2011. The Committee stated its support for HUD’s budget request of $1 billion, consistent with FY12 funding and a 37% cut below FY11 funding. It praised inclusion of budget language specifying that funding will not be awarded to organizations without demonstrated development experience.
The Committee expressed concern over the Section 202 Housing for the Elderly and Section 811 Housing for People with Disabilities programs having “unexpended balances” and said it plans to review these funds.
The Committee praised the proposal to create an Office of Housing Counseling.
The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program was criticized in the Views and Estimates as having slow spend-down rates. The Committee also stated it was “concerned about questionable uses of CDBG funds,” and that it will examine whether funds can be “better targeted to benefit economically distressed communities.”
The Committee express concern over past HUD expenditures on the HOPE VI program, for which it says performance “has lagged.” Plans to evaluate the effectiveness of Choice Neighborhoods Initiative were mentioned in this context.
During mark up, Representative Barney Frank (D-MA), ranking member of the Committee, offered an amendment to support, in the Views and Estimates, moving $250 million from the Choice Neighborhoods and the Sustainable Communities Initiatives to the CDBG line item.
The amendment language noted the decline in funding provided to the CDBG program in recent years and said that, “the committee recommends an increase to the suggested FY 2013 funding levels.” The amendment language also noted that, “the Committee believes that the relatively new Choice Neighborhoods and Sustainable Communities Initiatives… should not be funded at the expense of other critical affordable housing programs.” Despite the Committee’s criticism of the CDBG program in the Views and Estimates, the amendment was agreed to unanimously on a voice vote.
The Committee noted the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service budget request, saying that the budget request had increased 1.8% over the FY12 level. It noted that the Section 515 multifamily direct loan program, which creates new rental housing units, was eliminated. The Committee said that it will “review innovative proposals to address potential funding decreases in all RHS single-family and multi-family programs.”
The Committee approved the amended Views and Estimates by a party line vote of 26 to 19.