House and Senate leaders released today a final deal to fund affordable housing and community development programs at HUD and USDA as part of a larger omnibus package for fiscal year (FY) 2022. Overall, the spending bill provides HUD programs with $53.7 billion, or $4 billion above FY21 enacted levels. This is the first year that funding levels were not limited by the Budget Control Act, which put in place strict spending limits on defense and domestic programs. Despite this increase, the bill funds HUD programs at overall less than the president’s FY22 budget request, the House proposal, and the Senate proposal.
This $4 billion increase above FY21 funding is due to the hard work of advocates across the nation and key members of Congress, including Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Representatives David Price (D-NC) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittees.
The spending bill provides moderate funding increases to nearly all programs compared to FY21. Enough funding is provided to renew all existing contracts provided through Housing Choice Vouchers ($27.37 billion) and Project-Based Rental Assistance ($13.94 billion), and the bill provides $200 million to expand rental assistance vouchers to an additional 25,000 households, including individuals and families experiencing or at risk of homelessness, survivors of domestic violence and veterans.
The Community Development Block Grants program ($4.84 billion) received an extra $1.37 billion; the public housing capital program ($3.39 billion) was provided a $446 million increase; and the public housing operating program ($5.06 billion) received a $200 million increase. The HOME Investment Partnerships program (HOME) ($1.5 billion) and the Choice Neighborhood program ($350 million) each received increases of $150 million compared to FY21. Homeless Assistance Grants ($3.2 billion), Section 202 Housing for the Elderly ($1.03 billion), and Section 811 Housing for People with Disabilities ($352 million) received increased funding as well. The bill provides boosted funding for Tribal block grants ($772 million), Tribal competitive funds ($150 million), Housing for Persons with AIDS ($450 million), and Fair Housing programs ($85 million). For more details on the FY22 spending bill, see NLIHC’s updated budget chart.
While the final FY22 spending bill provides meaningful increases for vital HUD and USDA programs, far more resources are needed to address the nation’s growing affordable housing and homelessness crisis. The bill does not include the House Appropriators’ proposed expansion of Housing Choice Vouchers to an additional 125,000 households. Without this expansion, Congress missed a critical opportunity to serve households who are even more precariously housed because of the pandemic.
Significant additional housing investments are needed to address a critical driver of inflation – skyrocketing rents. The “Build Back Better Act” approved by the House in November 2021 includes robust funding for the HoUSed campaign’s top policy priorities: $25 billion to expand housing vouchers to an additional 300,000 households; $65 billion to preserve public housing and improve living conditions for the nation’s more than 2 million public housing residents; and $15 billion for the national Housing Trust Fund to build, preserve, and operate an estimated 150,000 units of deeply affordable, accessible housing. These targeted housing investments must be retained in any future budget reconciliation package to help bring down housing costs for America’s lowest-income and most marginalized households.
The House is expected to vote on the package on today, March 9, before it heads to the Senate for approval. In case the Senate is unable to pass the spending bill by Friday, March 11, when the current continuing resolution (CR) expires, the House will also vote today to extend the CR through March 15.
Detailed FY22 Analysis
Tenant-Based Rental Assistance
The bill provides $27.37 billion for tenant-based rental assistance (TBRA), including $24 billion to renew previous contracts. This funding may be sufficient for renewing existing TBRA contracts.
The bill includes $200 million to expand rental assistance vouchers to an additional 25,000 households, including individuals and families experiencing or at risk of homelessness, such as survivors of domestic violence and veterans. This expansion of vouchers is critically needed, but it falls short of the House’s proposed expansion of Housing Choice Vouchers to an additional 125,000 households.
The bill also provides the HUD Secretary with robust authority to waive or provide alternative requirements for the voucher program, provided that HUD does not waive requirements related to tenant rights and protections, rent setting, fair housing, nondiscrimination, labor standards, and the environment.
The bill allocates $50 million for Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH), an increase of $10 million from the previous year, and $5 million to serve Native American veterans, which is level funding compared to FY21.
The bill provides $459 million for Section 811 mainstream vouchers – an increase from the $314 million in FY21 – and provides higher funding for Family Unification Program vouchers ($30 million).
Project-Based Rental Housing
The bill provides $13.94 billion to renew Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) contracts, an increase of $475 million from FY21 funding levels. Advocates estimate this amount may be sufficient to renew all contracts.
The bill provides the public housing capital account with $3.39 billion, a $446 million increase from the FY21 funding level. This increase will provide housing agencies with some additional needed resources to maintain services and make critical repairs that will improve living conditions for tens of thousands of residents. Our country’s public housing infrastructure currently has an estimated capital needs backlog of $70 billion.
Funding for the public housing operating fund increased to $5.06 billion, a difference of $200 million from FY21-enacted funding.
The bill also provides $65 million in competitive funds for a Healthy Homes Initiative to address mold, radon, and carbon monoxide. An additional $33 million is allocated to support financial and physical assessment activities.
The Family Self-Sufficiency program is funded at $109 million –a $4 million increase over FY21-enacted levels.
The bill increases funding for homeless assistance programs to $3.213 billion – $213 million more than was provided in FY21 – and provides $3.8 million to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.
Other Housing Programs
The bill provides $1.03 billion to the Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program, an increase of $178 million from FY21-enacted levels, and increases funding for the Section 811 Housing for People with Disabilities program to $352 million, which is $125 million more than was provided in FY21. These amounts will provide sufficient funding to renew all current contracts and will provide resources for new construction for both programs. At this level of funding, the bill supports the construction of approximately 2,200 new affordable housing units for low-income seniors and 1,800 new affordable housing units for people with disabilities.
The bill increases funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program by $1.37 billion to a total of $4.84 billion. Most of this increase is for project-specific earmarks. The bill provides an additional $150 million for the HOME Investments Partnerships program (HOME), bringing funding for that program to $1.5 billion.
Funding for the Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) program is increased to $450 million – $20 million more than was provided in FY21. Funding for the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative is increased to $350 million, or $200 million more than FY21-enacted levels.
The bill provides $772 million for the Native American Housing Block Grant program, an increase of $125 million from FY21-enacted levels, and the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant program is provided with an increase of $20 million in the FY22 bill.
The bill also includes $20 million to provide legal aid assistance for eviction prevention.
The bill allocates $415 million to the Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes’ grants, an increase of $55 million from FY21.
The bill includes $85 million in funding for HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, an increase of $12 million from FY21.
The bill includes $1.45 billion for USDA’s Section 521 Rental Assistance. The Section 515 Rental Housing Direct Loan program is receiving $50 million, an increase of $10 million from FY21.
The FY22 spending bill also includes a reauthorization of the “Violence Against Women Act” (VAWA), which supports comprehensive responses and services for survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking.
Among other vital provisions, the bill enhances housing protections for survivors of violence by improving compliance review processes in federally assisted housing, ensuring survivors are not denied access to housing or evicted from their current housing because of the violence committed against them, and strengthening privacy protections.
The bill also amends the federal definition of “homelessness” provided in the “McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act” to include the experiences of survivors escaping or attempting to escape domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking. Expanding the definition of “homelessness” will in turn ensure survivors escaping violence are able to access crucial resources to find and maintain safe, stable housing.
The bill reaffirms survivors’ right to seek assistance from law enforcement or other emergency services without facing retaliation from a housing provider, including through fines and fees, eviction, and refusal to renew tenancy. In addition, the bill reauthorizes and improves the VAWA transitional housing program and authorizes a study on the housing needs of survivors of human trafficking. The bill also codifies a new VAWA Housing Director position at HUD and provides additional funding for VAWA training and technical assistance grants.
The final spending bill was accompanied by congressional directives to provide further details and instructions to HUD and other federal agencies.
The congressional directives cover a range of issues relating to COVID-19 relief and Treasury’s Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program, including:
- Directing HUD to submit a report on the impact of the statutory and regulatory flexibilities for COVID-19, and recommendations for improving effectiveness.
- Directing HUD, Treasury, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to report to Congress within 120 days on the number of renters and homeowners behind on payments, but who did not participate in COVID relief programs.
- Directing HUD to coordinate with Treasury to evaluate the effectiveness of ERA programs in helping households avoid eviction and homelessness and maintain housing stability.
Congress included directives related to disaster recovery efforts at HUD and other agencies, including:
- Approving HUD’s proposal to create of an Office of Disaster Management to report directly to the Deputy Secretary to improve coordination and delivery of disaster assistance to communities and families.
- Directing HUD, in coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide a joint briefing to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations, within 180 days on actions the agencies are taking to improve data sharing and integration, how such efforts are staffed, coordinated, and monitored across the agencies to ensure continual progress, and key lessons learned from prior efforts.
- Informing HUD and FEMA to pay careful attention to the recovery needs of low-income and other marginalized households, who are most likely to be displaced after a disaster.
- Urging HUD to prioritize the acceleration of disaster recovery funds for individuals and families, and to explore new tools, like recovery acceleration funds, to speed recovery.
- Directing HUD to brief Congress on recent and planned improvements to the disaster recovery grant reporting system.
The congressional directives touch on issues related to tribal nations, including:
- Directing HUD to solicit feedback from tribes on the competition process for Native American Housing Block Grants and challenges, and to brief Appropriations staff within 180 days on the results of that outreach.
- Directing HUD to continue efforts with other federal agencies to streamline and simplify tribal housing development and to eliminate unnecessary barriers.
Other congressional directives include:
- Directing HUD to report within 90 days on metro areas where income concentration and housing supply constraints are most prevalent and to recommend best practices for localities and states to help encourage the production of new housing in high-cost metro areas.
- Directing HUD to consult with public housing agencies, advocates, and researchers, and to provide a report within 180 days on ways to make the voucher administrative fee formula more relevant to what it costs to administer a high-performing and efficient voucher program.
- Directing HUD to report within 90 days on Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) inspections of all HUD assisted and/or insured properties.
- Directing HUD to report within 90 days on the status, results, and enforcement actions, if any, of all physical inspections over the last five years of project-based rental assistance properties.
- Directing HUD and Treasury to better align guidelines for the HOME program and Low Income Housing Tax Credit to address the housing needs of low-income disabled veterans.
- Directing $25 million of CDBG funds for recovery housing for individuals with substance use disorders.