The House could vote on the FY16 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) bill as early as the week of June 1. NLIHC advises advocates to urge Representatives to oppose the bill.
The House Committee on Rules is expected to release a rule for the bill, H.R. 2577 early in the week of June 1. The House will then consider the THUD bill, but after it has considered a short list of other bills. Therefore, House consideration of the THUD bill could slip until later in the week of June 1, or into the week of June 8.
The bill, which was approved by the House Committee on Appropriations on May 13 (see Memo, 5/18), would make significant cuts to several key housing programs for FY16. H.R. 2577 would redirect all funds set to go into the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) to the HOME program, which the bill would cut to $767 million in FY16 from $900 million in FY15 (see related article on the NHTF). The bill would cut funding for the public housing capital fund by $194 million, to $1.681 billion. The bill would also decrease funding the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly, Healthy Housing and Lead Hazard Control, and Choice Neighborhoods Initiative programs, among others.
The bill does not provide sufficient resources for tenant-based and project-based renewals. For tenant-based renewals, H.R. 2577 would provide sufficient funds for voucher renewals only if public housing agencies do not continue to improve their lease up rates in 2015 and if HUD exercises the authority provided by the bill to offset “excess” amounts in public housing agencies’ reserve accounts with decreased renewal funds in 2016. For project-based renewals, the bill relies on savings from changes to HUD’s procurement of project-based contract administrators (PBCA). Using these savings as a source for project-based renewal costs is problematic because savings from changes to PBCA contracts would not be realized until after FY16.
The bill would increase funding for homeless assistance programs by $50 million, far short of President Barak Obama’s request to increase funding for these programs by $345 million, to $2.480 billion. Within HUD’s homeless assistance programs, the bill would level fund Emergency Solutions Grants, and increase funds for Continuum of Care and Rural Housing Stability assistance programs.
The inadequate funding levels provided by H.R. 2577 are the direct result of the sequester spending caps dictated by the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011. The BCA’s spending caps keep FY16 spending for non-defense discretionary programs, including HUD programs, at FY15 levels. Because the Federal Housing Administration is expected to bring in about $1 billion less in revenues in FY16, and the project-based and tenant-based rental assistance programs demand increases totaling about $2 billion simply to renew existing housing assistance, level funding for non-defense discretionary programs results in the House’s bill making deep cuts to key programs.
If history is any guide, various harmful amendments are likely to be offered on the House floor during consideration of H.R. 2577. These could include amendments to prohibit HUD from administering the National Housing Trust Fund, to prohibit HUD from issuing and implementing a final Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, to expand the Moving to Work demonstration, to decrease funding for housing programs so the funds can be used for other programs, and to make across-the-board cuts in the name of deficit reduction.
NLIHC asks advocates to urge Representatives to support amendments that protect the NHTF resources and increase funding for the HOME, public housing capital, and Section 202 programs. Representatives should also be encouraged to support any amendment to restore the 67,000 Housing Choice Vouchers lost by the 2013 sequester cuts but not yet restored by Congress.
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies is expected to take up its bill in late June.
NLIHC budget chart, http://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/FY16_HUD-USDA-Budget-Chart_042815.pdf.