House and Senate leaders reached a final deal – released today – to fund affordable housing and community development programs at HUD and USDA as part of a larger minibus package for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020.
Overall, the spending bill provides HUD programs with more than $12 billion above the president’s request. It largely funds HUD programs at or above levels proposed by the Senate earlier this year, though not as high as levels proposed by the House prior to the bipartisan budget agreement. With this spending bill, Congress clearly rejected the administration’s calls to drastically cut housing benefits that help millions of low-income seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, veterans, and others afford their homes.
This successful outcome is due to the hard work of advocates across the nation and strong Congressional champions, including Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jack Reed (D-RI) 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 package increases funding for tenant-based rental assistance, public housing capital fund, homeless assistance grants, and project-based rental assistance. Choice Neighborhoods, Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDs, Community Development Block Grants, HOME Investment Partnerships, Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities, and Section 202 Housing for the Elderly also received increased funding above FY19 levels. Public Housing Operating Funds were cut modestly compared to FY19 levels. For more details, see NLIHC’s updated budget chart. The spending package also includes $25 million for a mobility housing voucher demonstration to help families with young children move to areas of opportunity, and it again provides $100 million in competitive grants to Native American communities to spur construction and preservation of affordable rental housing.
The spending package also includes legislative language to prevent the administration from undermining evidence-based approaches to ending homelessness through its Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for homeless assistance grants. NLIHC and other advocates warned that the Trump administration’s efforts to change the NOFA would be harmful to efforts to end homelessness.
House and Senate leaders also agreed to include stronger legislative language to force HUD to finally release critical mitigation funds for Puerto Rico. Congress approved over $16 billion in disaster mitigation funding for Puerto Rico nearly two years ago, but HUD has delayed releasing the aid. HUD has not only ignored a congressionally mandated deadline to release the funds by September of this year, but it has also failed to live up to representations made by HUD political appointees to Congress regarding when these funds would be released.
Unfortunately, the bill does not include to prevent HUD from moving forward with harmful policy proposals to force mixed-status immigrant families to separate or face eviction from HUD-assisted housing or to allow shelters to discriminate against transgender and LBGT people experiencing homelessness – proposals NLIHC strongly opposes and will continue to organize against.
NLIHC urges advocates to contact their Representatives and Senators to urge them to pass this final FY 2020 spending package as quickly as possible and to thank them for their leadership in ensuring the highest levels of funding possible for housing and community development programs.
The House is expected to vote on the spending package this week, quickly followed by a vote in the Senate before it heads to the president’s desk for his signature. The current stopgap funding measure is set to expire December 20.
The bill includes legislative language to prevent the administration from undermining evidence-based approaches to ending homelessness through its Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for homeless assistance grants. The bill states, “when awarding funds under the Continuum of Care program, the Secretary shall not deviate from the FY 2018 Notice of Funding Availability with respect to the tier 2 funding process, the Continuum of Care application scoring, and for new projects, the project quality threshold requirements, except as otherwise provided under this Act or as necessary to award all available funds or consider the most recent data from each Continuum of Care.” This is an important victory for advocates, who warned that Trump efforts to change the NOFA would be harmful to efforts to end homelessness.
Congress also included language to force HUD to finally release critical mitigation funds for Puerto Rico. The bill ensures that HUD will not receive any funding for the Office of the Chief Financial Officer for its financial transformation initiative “until after the Secretary has published all mitigation allocations made available [under CDBG-DR] and the necessary administrative requirements…” Congress approved over $16 billion in disaster mitigation funding for Puerto Rico nearly two years ago, but HUD has delayed releasing the aid for the territory. HUD has not only ignored a congressionally mandated deadline to release the funds by September of this year, but it has also failed to follow through with deadlines given by HUD political appointees to Congress.
Unfortunately, the bill does not include provisions included in the House version that would block harmful regulatory proposals by the Trump administration limiting access to housing assistance for both immigrant families and LGBTQ individuals experiencing homelessness. NLIHC will continue to oppose these proposals.
Tenant-Based Rental Assistance:
The bill provides $23.874 billion for tenant-based rental assistance (TBRA), including $21.5 billion to renew previous contracts. This is a significant increase over President Trump’s $20.116 billion request for TBRA for FY20. A provision authorizing HUD to implement a reserve offset, which allows the agency to adjust allocations to PHAs, should ensure sufficient funding for all renewals.
The bill allocates $40 million for Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH), the same amount as FY19, and $1 million to serve Native American veterans, a decrease of $3 million.
The bill provides $229 million for Section 811 mainstream vouchers, a slight increase from amounts provided in FY19. The bill also provides level funding for Family Unification vouchers at $25 million.
The bill provides $25 million for a voucher-mobility demonstration, where funds can be used to provide housing vouchers and mobility-related services, including pre- and post-move counseling and rent deposits, to help families with children move to areas of opportunity.
Project-Based Rental Housing:
The bill provides $12.6 billion to renew project-based rental assistance contracts for calendar year 2020, an increase of $823 million more than the FY19 funding level. Advocates estimate this amount will be sufficient to renew all contracts.
The bill provides the public housing capital account with $2.869 billion, an $94 million increase from the FY19 funding level. This increase will enable housing agencies to make critical repairs, such as fixing leaky roofs and replacing outdated heating systems, that will improve living conditions for tens of thousands of residents and help preserve this essential part of the nation’s affordable housing infrastructure for the future. President Trump had proposed zeroing out funding for this account in his FY20 budget.
Funding for the public housing operating fund decreased to $4.549 billion, a difference of $104 million. Funding for the Family Self-Sufficiency program stayed level at $80 million.
The bill also sets out new funding opportunities impacting public housing, including $45 million in competitive grants to public housing agencies (PHA) to reduce lead-based paint hazards ($25 million) and other health hazards, including mold and carbon monoxide poisoning ($20 million).
The bill increases funding for homeless assistance programs to $2.78 billion from $2.64 billion in FY19. The president would have funded the programs at $2.6 billion. $80 million of these funds will target addressing youth homelessness in urban and rural areas.
The bill also provides $3.8 million to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which the president proposed to eliminate.
Other Housing Programs:
The bill provides $793 million to the Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program, a significant increase of $115 million from the FY19 funding bill. The bill increases funding for the Section 811 Housing for People with Disabilities program at $202 million, $18 million more than in FY19. These amounts provide sufficient funding to renew all contracts as well as resources for new construction for both programs.
The bill would increase funding for both the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program at $3.43 billion and the HOME Investments Partnerships program (HOME) at $1.35 billion. Both programs would have been eliminated under the president’s budget request.
Funding for the Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) program was increased to $410 million, $18 million more than in FY19.
Funding for the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative is increased to $175 million, although it would have received no funding in the president’s budget.
The bill provides $646 million funding for the Native American Housing Block Grant program, the same as FY19 but $48 million more than proposed in the president’s budget. The bill also includes an additional $100 million for competitive grants.
The Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant program received $2 million in the FY20 House bill, the same amount as FY19.
The bill provides $290 million to the Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes’ grants, a modest increase of $11 million from FY19 and the same level included in the president’s budget.
The bill includes $70.3 million in funding for HUD’s office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, a modest increase from FY19.
The Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration FY20 spending bill includes $1.375 billion for Section 521 Rental Assistance.
The bill also provides $60 million for Multifamily Preservation and Revitalization, an increase from FY19, and $40 million for Section 515 Rental Housing Direct Loans, which is the same as FY19.