Congress has narrowly avoided a government shutdown and bought two more weeks to reach agreement on FY11 funding levels. The House passed H.J. Res. 44 on March 1, the Senate took up and passed the House resolution on March 2, and the President signed the bill into law later that day. The CR will fund the federal government through March 18. This is the fifth CR that Congress has passed. The federal fiscal year began on October 1, 2010, and the fourth CR expired March 4.
The two week CR will cut $4 billion from the federal budget, including $196 million from the HUD Community Development Fund. This cut will eliminate funding for Economic Development Initiatives Grants and neighborhood initiatives, all earmarks within the HUD budget (see Memo, 2/25).
On March 4, the Senate Appropriations Committee released its proposed FY11 seven month CR. The Senate proposal marks a negotiation position on cuts to non-defense discretionary spending programs for FY11 that is in stark contrast to the House’s proposal. The Senate’s “Department of Defense and Full Year Appropriations Act, 2011” would provide $51 billion less funding in FY11 than the President’s FY11 budget request while the House bill, H.R. 1, would provide $100 billion less than the Administration’s FY11 proposal.
While the Senate CR would cut $6.5 billion from the FY10 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies (T-HUD) authorization level, the bill would fund most HUD programs at the FY10 enacted levels and increase funding for certain others.
The Senate would increase the Tenant Based Rental Assistance program by $300 million over FY10 levels for a total of $18.5 billion. This is $1 billion below the amount requested by the President. Contract renewals would be funded at $16.7 billion, consistent with the House request. Some advocates believe this amount is sufficient to renew all contracts in FY11. The President had requested $17.3 billion for contract renewals in FY11. The Senate bill would continue funding for the Veterans Affairs Supported Housing (VASH) program at $75 million, funding that the President did not request in FY11 but is included again in the Administration’s FY12 request.
The Project Based Rental Assistance account would be funded at $9.27 billion, $700 million over FY10. This is $100 million below the President’s request and $50 million below the House bill. The Public Housing Capital Fund would be funded at $4.6 million, $450 million over FY10 levels and $1 billion over the House bill. The Public Housing Operating fund, however, would be cut by $150 million below FY10 levels, and $200 million below the President’s FY11 request. The Senate’s request is consistent with the House bill.
The Community Development Fund would see a decrease of $70 million, consistent with the President’s FY11 request and nearly $3 billion above the House bill. The Community Development Block Grant, however, would be funded at $3.9 billion, level with FY10. The Senate bill would not fund the Economic Development Initiatives or Neighborhood Initiatives (earmarks).
In keeping with the President’s request, Homeless Assistance Grants would be funded at $2.05 billion, a $190 million increase over FY10. This funding level would allow the Administration to implement much of the HEARTH Act, which reauthorized HUD federal homeless assistance programs in 2009. The Senate specifies that $285 million of these funds will be used to implement the Emergency Solutions Grant, which replaces the existing Emergency Shelter Grant program and now will provide funds for rapid rehousing and prevention of homelessness.
The Section 202 Housing for the Elderly and the Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities program would continue to be funded at FY10 levels of $825 million and $300 million, respectively. The Senate CR would ensure balances of project rental assistance contracts remain available for 10 years following expiration of the contracts, protecting against rescissions of unused funds.
The Brownfields program and the Energy Innovation Fund would not receive funding. These programs received $18 million and $50 million, respectively, in FY10.
The House FY11 funding bill, H.R. 1, which would cut more than $5.7 billion from HUD programs (see Memo, 2/11). The Senate is expected to vote on H.R. 1 as early as Tuesday and then proceed with a vote on its CR by the end of the week. The Senate is not expected to pass H.R. 1, nor is the House expected to pass the Senate’s CR. The House and Senate will instead use their respective positions on these two bills to negotiate a final FY11 spending amount.
In addition to severe cuts to non-defense domestic discretionary programs, H.R. 1 includes policy provisions, several of which are designed to prevent implementation of the Affordable Care Act. While House Republicans have prioritized preventing implementation of this act, several House Republicans are now indicating that they would not require these provisions be included in a final FY11 spending bill.
H.R. 1 would make deep cuts to several HUD programs and eliminate others. It would also rescind funds for several programs with unobligated balances.
The House bill would reduce the public housing capital fund by 43%, forcing many of the 1.2 million households in public housing to live in units that public housing agencies (PHAs) will not be able to afford to maintain. Additionally, fewer households on public housing waiting lists would be able to access affordable units because the rate at which units are lost annually due to insufficient funding would accelerate. HUD estimates that 10,000 units of public housing are already lost every year.
Section 202 housing for the elderly and Section 811 housing for persons with disabilities would each be cut by around 70%, with cuts of $551 million and $210 million, respectively. The 811 cut would cause 10,000 households with disabilities to lose their rental assistance. None of the remaining FY11 funds for either program could be spent for capital advances or related tenant-based rental assistance contracts.
H.R. 1 would cut $175 million from the HOME program and $20 million from funding for HUD’s healthy homes and lead hazard control. It would decrease Native American housing block grants by $200 million.
The House would provide $1.5 billion for the Community Development Fund, a $2.9 billion or 66% cut from FY10 levels. According to the latest public data from HUD, in FY08, 16% of Community Development Block Grant funds assisted 126,000 low or moderate income households with single family rehabilitation, multi-family rehabilitation and new construction.
Finally, H.R. 1 would eliminate funding for HOPE VI and the Choice Neighborhood Initiative, Native Hawaiian housing block grants, Brownfields, and the Energy Innovation Fund.
NLIHC sent a Call to Action on March 4, asking members to call their Senators and urge them to reject harmful cuts that would affect hundreds of thousands of vulnerable low income households.
The Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding (CHCDF) also sent a letter urging Senators to prevent cuts to HUD programs in the Senate’s FY11 funding proposal.
“The House bill would make deep and, in some cases, total cuts to affordable housing and community development assistance programs despite the growing hardship experienced by low income families,” write CHCDF members. “These cuts would severely impact millions of people served by programs that prevent people from losing their homes, stabilize communities, and promote economic mobility and job creation.”
The White House intervened in Congress’ FY11 budget planning process by convening a meeting on March 3 with House and Senate leadership and Vice President Joe Biden. The White House hopes to facilitate an agreement between Congressional leadership on FY11 funding prior to the expiration of the current CR on March 18.
View the Senate’s T-HUD CR Summary: http://appropriations.senate.gov/news.cfm?method=news.view&id=9a2a96fa-05f1-482b-aaaa-64f038a28988
View NLIHC’s Call to Action: http://nlihc.org/detail/article.cfm?article_id=7727
View the CHCDF letter: http://nlihc.org/doc/CHCDF_HR1_Senate_Letter_2_28_11.pdf