Washington, D.C. – The Senate Appropriations Committee passed the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) FY16 spending bill this morning in a vote of 20 to10. Four Democrats—Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Brian Schatz (D-HI)—voted with all 16 Committee Republicans in support of the bill.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) strongly opposes the bill because it all but eliminates the HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) program and dramatically expands the potentially harmful “Moving to Work” program. NLIHC continues to call on Congress to end the unworkable spending caps required by the 2011 Budget Control Act that are resulting in severe cuts to critical housing programs. Most egregiously, the bill eviscerates the HOME program, cutting its funding from FY15’s level of $900 million to an FY16 level of $66 million.
Two amendments were offered to lessen the effects of the bill as first introduced. The first amendment by Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) that would have increased funding for HOME, public housing capital, lead paint, Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, and Community Development Block Grant programs, and would have provided for 5,000 vouchers for domestic violence victims, failed on a party line vote of 14 to 16. The second amendment by Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) to increase HOME funding also failed on a party line vote of 14 to 16.
There was a robust exchange from THUD Subcommittee Chair Susan Collins (R-ME), Mikulski, Reed and others about ending the sequester caps and how this is needed.
Chair Collins also talked about the choices she had to make in the bill—that 83% of HUD's budget is rental assistance renewal for currently housed tenants and they are a priority.
NLIHC calls on Senators to oppose the bill and to work together to end the sequestration caps so that all housing programs for low income people and families in America can be adequately funded.
NLIHC applauds the Senate Appropriators for leaving the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF), which was created in 2008 to develop, rehabilitate and administer housing for extremely low income people and which has a dedicated funding source outside of annual appropriations, out of the bill where it belongs. But NLIHC expresses dismay that the bill guts the HOME Program and contains other troubling elements like its expansion of a “Moving to Work” demonstration program to 300 additional public housing authorities (from 39 today), which could potentially subject thousands of low income housing residents to rent hikes and a loss of housing assistance.
Sheila Crowley, President and CEO of NLIHC, stated: “The draconian cut to the HOME program was driven by sequestration.”
“Until the sequester spending caps are removed,” Ms. Crowley stated, “it will be impossible for Congress to provide key programs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) the funds they need to effectively serve low income families and communities.”
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.
Renee M. Willis
Vice President for Field and Communications
National Low Income Housing Coalition
1000 Vermont Avenue, NW, Suite 500, Washington DC 20005