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House Releases Robust FY2020 Housing Spending Bill

The House Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees funding levels for affordable housing and community development programs at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released on May 22 a draft fiscal year (FY) 2020 spending bill that provides a robust increase in funding to housing programs that serve low-income people and communities. The subcommittee is expected to take up the bill this week, with a full committee vote after the Memorial Day congressional recess.

Thanks to the leadership of House Subcommittee Chair David Price (D-NC) and Ranking Member Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), the House bill is a clear rejection of President Trump’s position on affordable housing investments and policy. The bill provides HUD programs with more than $13.4 billion above the president’s FY20 request and at least $5.9 billion above FY19 enacted levels. It also clearly rebukes the harmful rent increases, rigid work requirements, and de facto time limits proposed by the president in his past budget requests and in subsequent legislation. Moreover, the subcommittee included legislative language to halt cruel proposals from the President to evict mixed-status immigrant families from assisted housing and to roll back LGBT protections. Overall, the House subcommittee bill builds on the funding increases and policy wins advocates and congressional champions secured in recent years.

The House bill likely provides enough funding to renew all existing contracts provided through Housing Choice Vouchers ($23.8 billion) and Project-Based Rental Assistance ($12.59 billion). Beyond rental assistance, the House subcommittee bill provides robust increases to most programs. The HOME Investment Partnerships program (HOME) ($1.75 billion) receives the largest increase, along with Community Development Block Grants ($3.6 billion), Native American Housing Block Grants ($855 million), and Choice Neighborhoods ($300 million). Homeless Assistance Grants ($2.8 billion), Section 202 Housing for the Elderly ($803 million), Section 811 Housing for People with Disabilities ($259 million), and the Public Housing Operating Fund ($4.75 billion) received increased funding as well.

The subcommittee also provides $25 million for a newly created mobility-voucher demonstration for families with young children to help them move to areas of opportunity, and it provides $100 million in competitive grants to Native American communities to spur construction and preservation of affordable rental housing.

The bill also sets out new funding opportunities impacting public housing, including $50 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 ($25 million). The committee also provides $16 million to support the cost of judicial and administrative receivership of PHAs and $28 million to pilot a new physical inspection process and ongoing capital needs assessments.

The Appropriations Committee has written its bills to levels above the low spending caps required by law on defense and domestic funding. Without a budget agreement, housing investments may see an across-the-board cut of an estimated 10%. However, if an agreement is reached, additional housing funds may be possible.

More details on the House Subcommittee spending bill can be found below and in updated budget chart.

Key Policy Changes:

The House bill includes a number of provisions aimed at halting harmful proposals from the Trump administration.

The bill would prevent HUD from taking steps to “implement, administer, enforce, or in any way make effective” its proposal to evict mixed-status immigrant families from assisted housing or force them to break up.

Similar language was added to prevent HUD from rolling back LBGT protections, including the agency’s Equal Access rule, and to ensure transgender individuals have access to single-sex emergency shelters and other facilities that match their gender identity.

Tenant-Based Rental Assistance:

The House bill provides $23.81 billion for tenant-based rental assistance (TBRA), including $21.4 billion to renew previous contracts. This is a significant increase over President Trump’s $20.116 billion request for TBRA for FY20 and will adequately renew all vouchers.

The bill allocates $40 million for Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) and $5 million to serve Native American veterans. These are level to the amounts provided in FY19.

The bill provides $225 million for Section 811 mainstream vouchers, the same amount provided in FY19. The bill also includes $40 million for Family Unification vouchers, double the amount included in FY19.

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 $12.590 billion to renew project-based rental assistance contracts for calendar year 2020, an increase of $569 million above the president’s request and $843 million more than the FY19 funding level. Advocates estimate this amount will be sufficient to renew all contracts.

Public Housing:

The bill provides the public housing capital account with $2.855 billion, an $80 million increase from the FY19 funding level. This is another significant increase and 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 also increased to $4.753 billion, as does funding for the Family Self-Sufficiency program at $100 million.

The bill also sets out new funding opportunities impacting public housing, including $50 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 ($25 million). The committee also provides $16 million to support the cost of judicial and administrative receivership of PHAs and $28 million to pilot a new physical inspection process and ongoing capital needs assessments.

Homelessness:

The bill increases funding for homeless assistance programs to $2.8 billion from $2.64 billion in FY19. The president would have funded the programs at $2.6 billion.

The bill also provides $4.1 million to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which the president proposed to eliminate.

Other Housing Programs:

The bill provides $803 million to the Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program, an increase of $125 million from the FY19 funding bill. The bill also increases funding for the Section 811 Housing for People with Disabilities program to $259 million, $75 million more than in FY19. These amounts provide sufficient funding to renew all contracts and provide new construction for both programs.

The bill would increase funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program at $3.6 billion, as well as for the HOME Investments Partnerships program (HOME) at $1.75 billion, up from $1.25 billion in FY19. 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, up from $393 million in FY19. The president proposed to fund HOPWA at $330 million.

Funding for the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative is doubled at $300 million, despite receiving no funding in the president’s budget.

The bill provides increased funding of $671 million to the Native American Housing Block Grant program, with an additional $100 million competitive grants. The program would have received $600 million under the president’s budget with no additional competitive grant funding.

The Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant program received $2.5 million in the FY20 House bill, a modest increase compared to FY19.

Healthy Homes:

The bill provides $290 million to the Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes’ grants, a modest increase from FY19 and the same level included in the president’s budget.

Fair Housing:

The bill provides additional funding for HUD’s office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity with $75 million, a slight increase from FY19.

Disaster Recovery:

The bill will create a HUD HAG Fund that will recapture unused homelessness assistance grants that can be used for grants under the Continuum of Care and Emergency Solutions Grant programs. At least 10% of funds will provide assistance to people who were experiencing homelessness prior to presidentially declared disasters. People experiencing homelessness prior to a disaster are currently unable to obtain FEMA assistance and rely on other services for aid.

The bill also provides $4.66 million for permanent HUD disaster-recovery staff and includes a provision to promote data transparency to help localities address mitigation in their planning processes.

Rural Housing:

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration also released its FY20 bill. It includes $1.375 billion for Section 521 Rental Assistance, which reflects the administration's request to renew all existing contracts.

The House bill also provides $75 million for Multifamily Preservation and Revitalization, a 46% increase from FY19, and$45 million for Section 515 Rental Housing Direct Loans, which is less than requested by the administration.