The House Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees funding levels for affordable housing and community development programs at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released on May 15 a draft fiscal year (FY) 2019 spending bill that provides significant funding to housing programs that serve low income people and communities. The subcommittee is expected to take up the bill today, May 16, with a full committee vote in the coming weeks.
The House subcommittee bill maintains the 10% increase in HUD funding that advocates and Congressional champions secured in FY18 with modest additional increases for FY19, and it clearly rejects the president’s call to drastically cut housing investments. Overall, the bill provides HUD programs with more than $11 billion above the president’s FY19 request. It also rejects the harmful rent increases, rigid work requirements, and de facto time limits proposed by the president in his FY19 budget request and in subsequent legislation. The funding levels reflected in the bill are a result of the bipartisan budget agreement made earlier this year to lift the low spending caps on defense and domestic priorities, including affordable housing and community development, which itself was the work of advocates across the nation and strong Congressional champions, including House Subcommittee Chairman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and Ranking Member David Price (D-NC).
Despite the increased funding available to HUD, the amounts provided in the House bill are likely not enough to renew all existing contracts provided through Housing Choice Vouchers ($20.1 billion) and Project-Based Rental Assistance ($11.35 billion). This shortfall could result in fewer families being served through these programs. NLIHC will work with the full House Appropriations Committee and with the THUD subcommittee in the Senate to further increase these funding levels.
Beyond rental assistance, the House subcommittee bill provides increased or level funding to most programs. Housing for Persons with AIDs ($393 million) and Homeless Assistance Grants ($3.55 billion) see modest increases. Public housing ($2.8 billion for capital repairs and $4.6 billion for operating), Choice Neighborhoods ($150 million), and Community Development Block Grants ($3.37 billion) are funded at the increased levels provided in FY18. Funding for Section 202 Housing for the Elderly ($632 million) and Section 811 Housing for People with Disabilities ($154 million) would renew existing contracts. The HOME Investment Partnerships program (HOME) ($1.2 billion) would receive lower funding, although at levels above prior years.
The subcommittee also provides new resources ($50 million) for a mobility-voucher demonstration for families with young children to help them move to areas of opportunity, and it provides $100 million in competitive grants to Native American communities to spur construction and preservation of affordable rental housing.
The House bill is a strong response to the thousands of advocates who participated in the Our Homes, Our Voices National Housing Week of Action earlier this month, calling for increased federal investments in affordable housing and community development. Advocates held more than 125 events and activities around the country, including rallies, press conferences, meetings with law makers, storytelling activities, letter-writing campaigns, bus tours, and more during the week. Despite this initial success, however, our continued advocacy is needed to ensure that housing benefits are not only fully funded but expanded to meet the growing needs in communities throughout the U.S.
More details on the House Subcommittee spending bill can be found in below and in updated budget chart.
Housing and Urban Development
Tenant-Based Rental Assistance:
The House bill provides $22.48 billion for tenant-based rental assistance (TBRA), including $20.11 billion to renew previous contracts. While this is a significant increase over President Trump’s $20.55 billion request for TBRA in FY18, it is about $400 million less than what advocates estimate is needed to renew all vouchers. Unless additional funding is provided, the House bill could result in fewer families being served.
The bill allocates $40 million for Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) and $5 million to serve Native American veterans. These are level to the amounts provided in FY18.
The bill provides $390 million for Section 811 mainstream vouchers, a decrease from the FY18 funding level of $505 million but significantly higher than the $107 million requested by the administration. The bill does not include any funds for Family Unification vouchers, which received $20 million in FY18.
The bill provides $50 million for a voucher-mobility demonstration, where funds can be used to provide housing vouchers and mobility-related services, including pre- and post-move counseling and rent deposits, to help families with children move to areas of opportunity. The bill also requires HUD to submit to Congress within five years a report evaluating the demonstration program’s effectiveness.
Project-Based Rental Housing:
The bill provides $11.347 billion to renew project-based rental assistance contracts for calendar year 2019, an increase of $200 million above the president’s request, but $168 million less than the FY18 funding level. Advocates estimate $11.7 billion is needed to renew all contracts, so the amounts provided in the House bill may be insufficient to keep the program whole.
The bill again provides the capital account with $2.75 billion, the same funding level as FY18. This was a significant increase over the FY17 level. This continued robust funding will enable housing agencies to make critical repairs, such as fixing leaky roofs and replacing outdated heating systems, that will improve living conditions for tens of thousands of residents and help preserve this essential part of the nation’s affordable housing infrastructure for the future.
Funding for the public housing operating fund remains level at $4.55 billion, as does funding for the Family Self-Sufficiency program at $75 million.
President Trump had proposed slashing funding for both accounts in his FY19 budget.
The bill increases funding for homeless assistance programs to $2.546 billion from $2.513 billion in FY18. The president would have funded the programs at $2.383 billion.
The bill also provides $3.6 million to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which the president proposed to eliminate.
Other Housing Programs:
The bill provides $632 million to the Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program. The FY18 funding bill for HUD provided $678 million for Section 202, of which $105 million was for new construction. The bill also decreases funding for the Section 811 Housing for People with Disabilities program to $154 million, $76 million less than in FY18. The FY18 spending bill provided $230 million for Section 811, $82.6 million of which was for new construction. Both programs would receive sufficient funding to renew all contracts.
The bill would level-fund the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program at $3.365 billion, while funding for the HOME Investments Partnerships program (HOME) is decreased to $1.2 billion from $1.362 billion in FY18. Both programs would have been eliminated under the president’s budget request.
Funding for the Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) program was increased to $393 million, up from $375 million in FY18. The president proposed to fund HOPWA at $330 million.
The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative is level-funded at $150 million, despite receiving no funding in the president’s budget.
The bill provides level funding of $655 million to the Native American Housing Block Grant program, $100 million of which is available for competitive grants. The program would have received $600 million under the president’s budget.
The Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant program receives no funding for FY19 in the House bill. In FY18, the program received $2 million and no funding in the presidents’ budget.
The bill provides $230 million to the Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes’ grants, the same funding level as FY18. The president would have funded the program at $145 million.
The bill also takes steps to address the physical conditions of HUD-assisted housing to ensure residents are living in decent and safe homes. It requires HUD to take action against property owners receiving rental subsidies who do not maintain safe properties. The language authorizes the HUD secretary to replace the property’s management agent with one approved by HUD, impose civil monetary penalties, change HUD’s contract with the property owner until the program is resolved, transfer the property or contract to a new owner, and relocate tenants, among other actions.
The bill flat-funds HUD’s office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.
The bill also prohibits HUD from directing local governments to change their zoning laws under the agency’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule or with the AFFH assessment tool, as was included in the FY18 and other past spending bills.