The House Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees funding levels for affordable housing and community development programs at HUD will vote today on a draft Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 spending bill that significantly underfunds federal investments that serve low income people and communities. The full Appropriations Committee is expected to take up the bill as soon as later this week.
Although Congress has not yet approved a budget resolution setting the topline limit for all federal spending, House leaders have moved forward with individual spending bills that would fund domestic programs at $5 billion below the already low spending caps required by the Budget Control Act, or $8 billion less than FY17.
Because of such low spending limits, the draft House bill provides at least $1.5 billion less than what is needed to maintain program levels and cover inflationary costs to ensure that every household currently receiving housing assistance can remain in their homes. For more details, see NLIHC’s updated budget chart.
Despite the Committee’s assurances that funding levels are “adequate to continue assistance to all families and individuals currently served by these programs,” NLIHC and others estimate that it eliminate more than 140,000 housing vouchers that families are expected to use next year. Without housing assistance, families are at immediate risk of eviction and, in worst cases, homelessness.
The bill also reduces flexible resources used by states and localities to build and preserve affordable housing and address community needs. It undermines public/private partnerships that result in affordable homes for low income people, and the bill cuts funding used to keep families healthy and safe by removing lead and other harmful toxins from their homes.
Specifically, the bill does not provide sufficient funding to cover inflationary costs for Housing Choice Vouchers, and it inadequately funds Project-Based Rental Assistance contracts with private landlords. The House bill cuts funding for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) – both of which have seen dramatic reductions in funding over the last several years – and it essentially eliminates Choice Neighborhood Grants. Moreover, the House bill reduces funding for the Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control program and eliminates the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.
While the House bill does not propose funding cuts as deep as President Donald Trump’s budget request – which NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel described as “cruel” – it would significantly cut funding for critical affordable housing resources that provide lifelines for extremely low income seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, veterans, and other vulnerable populations.
NLIHC and its members strongly oppose any further cuts to the HUD budget and urge Congress to reject the House bill. Instead of reducing already-tight resources that help millions of the poorest families afford a place to call home, Congress should expand federal investments to ensure that everyone has a safe, accessible home they can afford. To do so, Congress must lift the low spending caps equally for defense and non-defense programs and fund affordable housing and community development programs.
The House bill reinforces why housing advocates have planned a National Housing Week of Action, “Our Homes, Our Voices,” from July 22 to July 29 to call for increased federal investments in affordable housing and community development. During that week, local advocates are hosting a full range of activities, including rallies, press events, storytelling activities, letter-writing campaigns, bus tours, and more. We encourage all housing organizations and advocates to participate in Our Homes, Our Voices by planning or attending an event near you. To learn more about how to get involved, visit www.ourhomes-ourvoices.org.
Rent Policy Changes
The House bill rejects the rent policy changes proposed by the Trump administration that would have given HUD the authority to increase the financial burden on current and future tenants. These changes include providing the HUD Secretary with the authority to: increase a tenant’s rent contributions from the currently standard of 30% of their adjusted income to 35% of their gross income; increase the minimum monthly rent for tenants to $50, beginning with a tenant’s first annual or interim authorization; prohibit tenants from receiving utility reimbursements used to cover the cost of heat and water; and freeze annual rent adjustments for properties receiving housing assistance.
Tenant-Based Rental Assistance
The spending package provides $20.487 billion for tenant-based rental assistance (TBRA), $18.710 billion of which is to renew previous contracts. While the bill increased funding for TBRA by $355 million, it would still yield a 6% shortfall in renewal funding, which represents the loss of about 140,000 housing vouchers.
The bill does not provide new funding for HUD for Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH), but instead allocates up to $577 million to renew VASH vouchers currently in use.
Project-Based Rental Housing
The bill provides $11.082 billion to renew Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) contracts for calendar year 2018, an increase of $266 million from the FY17 funding level. However, this amount will likely not be enough to renew all PBRA contracts.
Under the House THUD bill, the Public Housing Operating Fund received flat funding compared to FY17, while the Public Housing Capital Fund allocation is cut from $1.94 billion in FY17 to $1.85 billion.
The bill provides flat funding for homeless assistance programs at $2.383 billion.
National Housing Trust Fund
The House bill rejects the President's proposal to eliminate the national Housing Trust Fund, the first new federal housing resource in decades. This program is exclusively targeted to serve people with the lowest incomes.
Other Housing Programs
The bill provides $573 million to the Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program and increases funding for the Section 811 Housing for People with Disabilities program to $147million, $1 million more than the FY17 level.
The bill would cut $100 million each from the HOME Investments Partnerships program (HOME) and the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. HOME would receive $850 million, while CDBG would receive $2.9 billion.
Funding for the Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) program was level-funded at $356 million, as was the Native American Housing Block Grant program, which is funded at $654 million.
The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative would be cut drastically to $20 million, down from $138 million in FY17.
The bill is silent on further changes to the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program.
The bill provides $130 million to the Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes’ grants, a $15 million decrease from F17 levels.
The bill takes steps to address the physical conditions of HUD-assisted housing to ensure residents are living in decent and safe homes.
The bill flat-funds the HUD’s office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity and includes language that prohibits funds from being used to direct a participating jurisdiction to make specific changes to its zoning laws to comply with the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule or with the AFFH assessment tool.
U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness
The bill embraces the Trump proposal to eliminate the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which coordinates the federal response to homelessness across 19 federal agencies and which is credited with helping to reduce homelessness across the country.