Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, wrote a letter to both the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) on providing support for housing and community development programs in FY13. “HUD housing and community development funds preserve the country’s existing affordable housing assets; save costs in other government programs; invest in the future of our communities; and provide safe, stable and affordable housing options for America’s seniors, children and families,” wrote Chairman Johnson.
The Senate THUD Subcommittee is expected to mark up its FY13 HUD spending bill the week of April 16 (see related article elsewhere in Memo).
The letter cites the $18.25 national housing wage that a household must earn in order to afford a two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent published in NLIHC’s 2012 Out of Reach report. “This is an amount far above the minimum wage or income available to persons with disabilities who rely upon Supplemental Security Income. Families burdened by housing costs have less available to meet other essential needs like transportation to work, food, medicine, and may even face homelessness,” wrote the Chairman. He also cites NLIHC’s report on the shortage of affordable units for extremely low income (ELI) households, saying that there are only 32 units available for every 100 ELI households.
Chairman Johnson urges appropriators to fund HUD programs at a level at least equal to the President’s FY13 budget request to Congress and to increase funds for certain HUD programs.
For the Tenant-Based Rental Assistance account, he requests funding to renew all current vouchers, a level of administrative funding sufficient for public housing authorities to manage the program, the President’s requested level for 10,000 new Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers, and funding for the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program.
The letter criticizes the Administration’s proposed funding level for the Project-Based Rental Assistance program as insufficient and urges a funding level that would continue “current services” and preserve thousands of affordable units.
For the Public Housing accounts, the Chairman recommends fully funding the operating fund and providing sufficient capital funding to begin to address the $26 billion backlog of public housing capital needs. He also requests that appropriators provide the President’s requested funding level for the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative.
Chairman Johnson requests full and robust funding for the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants. For the HOME Investment Partnerships program he requests that appropriators consider an increase in funding over the President’s FY13 request.
For supportive housing, he requests full funding for the Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program, restoration of funding to the Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities program and a continued commitment to funding the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program.
For the Community Development Fund programs, the Chairman requests an increase in funding for the Community Development Block Grant program and the President’s requested funding level for the Sustainable Communities Initiative. He requests that appropriators continue support for Section 4 funding.
He calls for restoring funding for the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program, which was zeroed out in the President’s budget, and continuing funding for housing and foreclosure mitigation counseling, Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard. For the Native American and Hawaiian Housing Assistance programs, he requests at least the Administration’s funding request and urges appropriators to consider increasing funding for those programs. He also urges full funding of the Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Program.
The letter from Senator Johnson is attached.