The federal appropriations process moved another step forward on June 19 with the House Committee on Appropriations’ mark up of its Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) bill, H.R. 5972, and its Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies spending bill, H.R. 5973.
Both Subcommittee bills would underfund critical rental housing programs serving extremely low income households (see Memo, 6/8). NLIHC signed on to two letters to the Appropriations Committee Chair and Ranking Member in support of full funding for HUD and Rural Housing Service (RHS) programs. The letters, sent by the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding, a group of over 70 national organizations facilitated by NLIHC, called on appropriators to increase funding for HUD and RHS programs in the mark up.
During the mark up, Committee members made only one increase in funding for rental programs. The Committee passed an amendment to the Agriculture bill offered by Representative Mike Simpson (R-ID) that would provide a slight increase of $1.5 million for the Section 521 Rental Assistance program. The amendment, which was agreed to unanimously, would increase funding to $888 million. Nonetheless, this funding level is still a decrease of $19 million below the President’s request and that of the Senate Appropriations Committee bill, S. 2375.
Further, this bill would fund the Section 521 program at $78 million below the FY11 funding level and $92 million below the FY10 funding level. The FY13 Agriculture bill would also underfund the Section 515 Rental Housing program and the Section 514/516 Farm Labor grants and loans programs.
The Committee voted on and rejected two housing-related amendments to the THUD bill. The first amendment, offered by Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) would have increased funding for the Project-Based Section 8 account by $1.2 billion. The Committee bill would provide only $8.7 billion, level with the President’s request but an amount insufficient to fund renewal of all current contracts for a full year for FY13. The Senate THUD bill, S. 2322, would provide $9.8 billion for the program. Ms. Lee said that Project-Based Rental Assistance is “vital funding that provides housing for vulnerable households.” She did not include an offset in the amendment because she said that the House budget resolution broke its deal with the Senate on the FY13 spending cap agreed to in the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA).
The Senate crafted its appropriations bills using the BCA FY13 funding level, while the House set a lower spending cap for FY13. THUD Subcommittee Chair Tom Latham (R-IA) opposed the amendment because there was not an offset. THUD Subcommittee Ranking Member John Olver (D-MA) stated his “strong support” for increasing funding for the account, but said that the bill could not go to the House floor if it exceeded the Subcommittee’s 302(b) allocation.
The second amendment, offered by Representative Jeff Flake (R-AZ), would have decreased funding for the HOME Investment Partnerships program from $1.2 billion to $1 billion, consistent with the President’s request and the Senate funding level. Mr. Flake said that changes HUD is required to make in its oversight of the HOME program starting in FY12 have not yet been implemented, so funding should not be increased in FY13. Subcommittee Chair Latham and Ranking Member Olver both opposed the amendment. Mr. Latham said he has “some sympathy” for Mr. Flake’s concerns, but that HOME funding provided by the bill is still well below the FY10 funding level. He also noted the HOME program is important in that it serves both rural and urban areas. Mr. Olver voiced strong opposition to the amendment, saying that HOME is “one of the few programs that actually funds affordable housing [production].”
Other members of the Committee considered offering amendments related to policy components of the bills but did not do so at the request of Subcommittee Chair Latham. He asked that members “refrain from offering authorizing language” amendments. Representative Steven LaTourette (R-OH) offered and withdrew an amendment that would have made authorizing changes to the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. Committee members also agreed to a managers’ amendment that would make technical changes to the HUD portion of the bill.
The House Committee on the Rules met on June 21 and established the rule for each of the bills. Each will be considered under an open rule, allowing members of the House to offer floor amendments.
On June 21, the Office of Management and Budget issued Statements of Administration Policy (SAP) on H.R. 5972 and H.R. 5973. In the H.R. 5972 SAP, the Administration criticized the House for providing only $2 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants instead of the President’s request of $2.31 billion. The Administration notes that the housing of 25,000 households would be jeopardized if the House funding level was enacted. The draft THUD Committee Report includes criticism of the Homeless Assistance Program, saying that the increasing cost of Continuum of Care renewals is “completely unsustainable.”
The SAP on the HUD bill also encourages House appropriators to “adopt rental assistance proposals along the lines in the FY 2013 Budget that would yield savings across HUD rental assistance programs.” Among the policy provisions included in the President’s budget is the proposal to increase to $75 and make mandatory minimum rents for tenants of six of HUD’s rental assistance programs, and a proposal to change the threshold for medical expense deductions (see Memo, 6/8). This policy could cause housing instability for up to 500,000 of the poorest households served by HUD’s programs. The Administration notes that without policy provisions that would raise revenue, the bill’s funding level “would result in about 30,000 families losing their assistance.”
The House THUD bill funding levels for rental assistance programs are consistent with the President’s request, which is insufficient to fully fund the programs in FY13. Both the House and Administration funding levels assume that policy provisions would be enacted to produce sufficient funding to make up the shortfall. The draft THUD committee report language reflects the House appropriators’ support for enactment of these policy provisions.
In the SAP on H.R. 5973, the Administration criticizes the Committee for underfunding the Section 521 Rental Assistance program, which would result in “eliminating nearly 4,600 units of rental assistance for rural America.”
The House is expected to bring both the Agriculture bill and the THUD bill to the floor for consideration the week of June 25.
The CHCDF THUD letter is attached.
The CHCDF Agriculture letter is attached.