Washington, D.C. – The White House and leaders in Congress struck a significant two-year budget deal on Tuesday to restore 90% of the sequestration budget cuts for non-defense discretionary programs in fiscal year 2016. The House passed The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 this afternoon.
I applaud the White House and House and Senate leaders of both parties for coming together to produce a bipartisan bill that reflects the best interests of the American people. I am hopeful that the budget deal will pave the way for addressing the inadequate House and Senate HUD appropriations bills, which were written earlier this year to comply with the austere sequester spending caps.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) will work to make sure that programs meeting the housing needs of the lowest income households are more adequately funded with the increased discretionary spending allowed by the budget deal. While fully addressing the nation’s shortage of housing affordable to the lowest income households will require tax reform and additional mandatory spending, the fiscal year 2016 HUD bill should strive at least to do no harm to currently assisted households and maintain existing housing resources.
Relief from sequestration affords Congress the opportunity to enact a HUD funding bill that does not rely on taking the first dollars designated for the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF), a tactic used by the House’s HUD bill to fund the HOME program. The NHTF, funded by an assessment on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s annual volume of business, will provide its first funds to every state in 2016 to produce, preserve, and operate housing for the lowest income households. The HOME program, which the Senate HUD bill cuts by over 90%, is an effective block grant to states and cities for multifamily housing production, homeownership assistance, and rental assistance. NHTF and HOME are complimentary, distinct, and critical programs communities need to meet their most pressing housing needs.
We also call for use of sequester relief funds to fully fund housing choice vouchers in use in 2015 and 12-month renewals of all project-based rental assistance contracts, as well as to sufficiently fund the public housing operating and capital accounts. NLIHC wants Congress also to adequately fund homeless assistance grants, healthy housing, fair housing, housing for persons with disabilities, and housing for the elderly. Finally, NLIHC is hopeful that Congress will restore the 67,000 housing choice vouchers lost after the 2013 sequester cuts that remain unfunded.
Established in 1974 by Cushing N. Dolbeare, the National Low income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that assures people with the lowest income in the United States have affordable and decent homes
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