On November 1, the Senate passed H.R. 2112, the minibus package incorporating FY12 appropriations bills for Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (T-HUD), S. 1596; Agriculture, Rural Housing, and Food and Drug Administration, H.R. 2112; and the Commerce, Justice, and Science, H.R. 2596. The bill passed by a vote of 69 to 30 with all Democrats voting in favor. On November 3, the House and Senate formally convened the conference committee that will negotiate final spending amounts for the bill.
Neither the House nor Senate bills provide sufficient funding for HUD in FY12. The Senate bill would provide over $1 billion less than the House T-HUD Subcommittee bill. On November 3, it was reported that the conferees were working with a T-HUD allocation of $55.6 billion, higher than the $55.3 billion that the reported funding level in the Senate bill, excluding disaster funding. Also, it was reported that Representative Tom Latham (R-IA), Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on T-HUD, expects funding for Tenant Based Rental Assistance and Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) Vouchers to be increased in conference committee.
As currently written, both the House and Senate bills would underfund housing programs that serve extremely low income (ELI) households (see Memo, 10/21). Both bills would underfund Tenant Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) contract renewals, resulting the potential loss of up to 40,000 vouchers. The Senate bill rescinds funding from Tenant Based Rental Assistance reserve accounts that could leave public housing authorities with reserve levels too low to ensure smooth operation of the voucher program.
Both bills would also underfund Project Based Rental Assistance contract renewals, forcing HUD to either discontinue some contracts or issue partial year renewals for all contracts. The Senate bill also rescinds funds from a reserve account that supplements Project Based Rental Assistance contracts.
Both bills would include severe cuts to the Public Housing Capital Fund, potentially leading to the loss of tens of thousands of public housing units. Numerous other HUD programs would be cut by both the House and Senate bills. The House bill has a provision that would end funding for federal public housing units that were formerly state-aided public housing (see Memo, 9/16). The Senate bill, however, includes several positive policy provisions and restores funding for the Housing Counseling program.
For rural housing, the House and Senate Agriculture bills differ significantly on rental assistance programs. The House bill would cut the Rural Rental Assistance Section 521 program by $17 million below the President’s request and $65 million below FY11, which could cause tens of thousands of households to lose their rental assistance. The Senate would cut the program by $2 million below the President’s request and $51 million below FY11. The Rural Rental Housing Section 515 program is $37 million below the President’s request and $11 million below FY11 in the House bill and $30 million below the Administration’s request and $5 million below FY11 in the Senate bill.
The Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations portion of the Senate bill, S. 1572, would not provide enough funding for the Census Bureau to continue its current operations despite being higher than the amount proposed in the House bill.
NLIHC signed on to a letter coordinated by the Census Project urging conference committee members to fund the Census Bureau at no less than the Senate funding level of $943 million. The letter says “without this minimum level of funding, the Census Bureau will not be able to conduct a full 2012 Economic Census, leaving the nation without important guideposts to measure and plan the nation’s continued economic recovery, nor complete important evaluations of Census 2010 accuracy and publication of all promised data products.”
The conference committee is expected to complete the compromise bill quickly, so the House can bring the bill to floor during the week of November 14, when the House returns from a week-long recess. The House also is expected to attach a third Continuing Resolution (CR) to the bill to keep the government running into December. The current CR expires on November 18.
View the Census Project letter at: http://www.nlihc.org/doc/Census_Project_FY12funding_Ltr_11-11.pdf