On May 13, the House Committee on Appropriations approved the FY16 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) funding bill by a vote of 30 to 21. All Republicans and no Democrats supported bill (see related article below).
The bill would transfer all funding from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac dedicated to the National Housing Trust (NHTF) to the HOME Investments Partnership program. It would also prohibit Congress from putting any other funding into the NHTF. The bill raids the NHTF in order to back fill the Committee’s HOME appropriation cut to $767 million in order to reach $900 million, an amount equal to the FY15 level, but lower than President Barack Obama’s $1.06 billion budget request (see Memo, 5/4).
During the Committee markup, Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) offered an amendment that would have removed all references to the NHTF from the bill and increased funding for the HOME program to $1.06 billion. The amendment failed in a party line vote of 20 to 29.
When introducing her amendment, Ms. Lee stated, “We’re nearly 7.1 million units short of what we need to address housing for extremely low income Americans. By robbing the Housing Trust Fund, this Committee is driving low income Americans into displacement, homelessness, and real desperation. I find it unacceptable that this Committee will fund one affordable housing program by eliminating another one designed to help the poorest. And while I appreciate efforts to provide further funding for the HOME program, which has a proven track record of leveraging $4.1 million in private and public dollars for every $1 million in funding, it’s disgraceful that we would raid affordable housing funds to do so. My Republican colleagues should take a hard look at these draconian budget cuts before using all these gimmicks to raise funding levels. This is especially shocking at a time when income inequality is on the rise and housing expenses have risen astronomically. People living below the poverty line have the right to affordable, decent housing. Both of these programs are critical for making rental housing and homeownership attainable for people throughout our country. We shouldn’t be bleeding one dry to fund the other.”
THUD Subcommittee Chair Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) opposed the Lee amendment, because the amendment included no offset (cuts to other programs under the bill), violating the THUD Subcommittee’s 302(b) allocation set by the Budget Control Act’s strict sequester caps for nondefense discretionary spending.
THUD Ranking Member David Price (D-NC) spoke in favor of the amendment and pointed out that while HOME and the NHTF are both affordable housing programs, they have very different purposes. He said, “The Housing Trust Fund was intended to target extremely low income households -- that’s 30% of the area median income. The HOME program serves a far wider range of income levels. The Housing Trust Fund will provide new units of housing that will address the shortage of housing for extremely low income households. Without this dedicated targeted funding, I’m afraid that the serious shortage we are facing will mature into a real crisis.”
Representative Price offered an amendment with several provisions including one that mirrored the Lee amendment (see related article below). That amendment failed by a vote of 21 to 29.
The National Housing Trust Fund Campaign send a letter to Appropriations Committee Chair Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) objecting the raid of the NHTF to pay for lost appropriations and outlining the differences between the NHTF and the HOME program. The HOME Coalition sent a similar letter.
The House THUD mark up webcast and documents are at http://appropriations.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=394196
The NHTF Campaign letter to Committee leaders can be found at http://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/NHTF_Campaign-letter-regarding-FY16-THUD-appropriations-bill.pdf.
The HOME Coalition letter can be found at http://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/HOME-Coalition_FY2016_Sign-On-Letter_051215.pdf.