Members of Congress Circulate “Dear Colleague” Letters to Support HUD, USDA, and HHS Funding

Members of Congress are circulating “Dear Colleague” sign-on letters in support of HUD, USDA Rural Housing, and HHS funding to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Appropriations Subcommittees. These letters express support for many important housing and community development programs and often request specific funding levels for FY17 appropriations.

Tenant-Based Rental Assistance

Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) is circulating a letter asking the House Appropriations Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Subcommittee to provide $20.9 billion in FY17 to fund the tenant-based rental assistance (TBRA) program. This request includes $18.4 billion to renew all vouchers currently in use, as well as $88 million to provide 10,000 new vouchers targeted for homeless families with children. The letter states, “Research consistently demonstrates that the TBRA program is effective in reducing poverty, housing instability and homelessness, and in helping families - particularly minority families - to live in communities that are safer and healthier.” The deadline to sign is March 7. Members can contact Melissa Connolly at melissa.connolly@mail.house.gov to sign the letter.

Homeless Assistance

Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI) is circulating a letter in support the President’s request of $2.664 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants in FY17. This is a $414 million increase over the FY16 enacted amount. “With homeless systems already strained and persistent economic difficulties leading to high numbers of people continuing to need help, providing $2.664 billion for homeless assistance programs must be a priority so that we can ensure all individuals and families who are facing homelessness will soon have a place to call home,” wrote Ms. Moore. The deadline to sign is March 11. Members can contact Sean Gard at sean.gard@mail.house.gov to sign the letter.

Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) are circulating a letter in the Senate also in strong support of funding for Homeless Assistance Grants and the TBRA program in FY17. “Communities around the country have made significant progress toward ending homelessness among veterans and chronic homelessness, largely due to funding that Congress has made available through McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants for chronic homelessness and Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers for veterans. However, there is still much work to be done,” wrote Senators Merkley and Gillibrand. The deadline to sign is March 14. Senators can contact Elizabeth Eickelberg at elizabeth_eickelberg@merkley.senate.go to sign the letter.

HOME Investment Partnerships Program

Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) are circulating a letter calling for of $1.2 billion in funding for the HOME Investment Partnerships program (HOME) in FY17. This is above the FY16 enacted level and President’s FY17 request of $950 million. “Over the last several years, HOME funding has been cut nearly in half, from $1.8 billion in 2010 to $950 million in 2016. These reductions have real and serious consequences for families,” wrote the Senators. “As communities have struggled to continue their affordable housing programs, they have been forced to discontinue critical projects for low- and moderate-income persons.” The deadline for senators to sign the letter is March 15. Senators can contact Eric Wall at eric_wall@coons.senate.gov or Erica Chabot at erica_chabot@leahy.senate.gov to sign.

Representative Marcia Fudge (D-OH) is also circulating a letter supporting $1.2 billion for HOME in FY17. “Since 1990, HOME has helped to create over 1.2 million housing units and provided tenant-based rental assistance to over 307,000 families,” wrote Ms. Fudge. “HOME funding is a vital resource for communities working to meet the needs of low-income families and individuals in need of supportive housing, including veterans, persons with disabilities, seniors and persons experiencing homelessness.” The deadline for Members of the House to sign the letter is March 11. Members can contact Félix Muñiz at felix.muniz@mail.house.gov to sign.

Community Development Block Grant Program

Senator Leahy also is circulating a letter in the Senate in support of $3.3 billion for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program in FY17. CDBG was funded at $3.06 billion in FY16. The President requested $2.88 billion for CDBG in FY17. “When adjusted for inflation, last year’s funding level of $3 billion was only 20 percent of funding received during the program’s first year in 1975, when it served less than half as many grantees,” wrote Senator Leahy. “Due to these adjustments in the formula allocation, essential programs and projects also were cut back, reducing the amount of funding given to communities in need.” The deadline for senators to sign the letter is March 15. Senators can contact Erica Chabot at erica_chabot@leahy.senate.gov to sign.

Housing for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is circulating a letter in support of HUD’s Section 202 and 811 programs for the development of new housing and the continuation of rental assistance for very low-income seniors and persons with disabilities. The letter requests $505 million for the Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program, equal to HUD’s request for FY17, and $179 million for the Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities program, which is $25 million more than HUD’s FY17 request. The additional $25 million for Section 811 would allow for the creation of 765 new permanent supportive housing units for non-elderly adults with significant disabilities. Senators can contact Rebecca Shatz at Rebecca_Schatz@menendez.senate.gov to sign.

Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS

Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) are requesting $375 million for the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program in FY17.  The Senators’ request is $40 million more than the Administration’s request and the FY16 appropriation for the program. “Research has proven the connection between stable housing and individual health outcomes for those living with HIV/AIDS,” the Senators wrote. “Some 94 percent of HOPWA recipients were able to achieve housing stability thanks to these funds. Housing assistance has been demonstrated to reduce the chance of transmission by 96 percent due to access and adherence to medical treatment, and the reliance on expensive crisis services like emergency rooms and nursing home care is greatly reduced. . . .” The deadline for signing on is March 11. Senators can contact Julian Miller at julian_miller@durbin.senate.gov or Denzel Singletary at denzel_singletary@gillibrand.senate.gov to sign the letter.

Representatives Jerrod Nadler (D-NY), Joseph Crowley (D-NY), and Jim McDermott (D-WA) also are circulating a letter in support of $375 million for HOPWA in FY17.  “Despite its efficiency and effectiveness, HOPWA remains chronically underfunded,” wrote the Representatives. “Last year, with your support, we restored HOPWA funding to $335 million, its highest funding level since FY 2010. Yet, despite this additional funding, HUD's latest report indicates that only 49,000 people are being served, which is 3,000 individuals less than their previous reports.” The deadline to sign is March 7. Members can contact Melissa Connolly at Melissa.connolly@mail.house.gov or Todd Sloves at todd.sloves@mail.house.gov to sign the letter.

Rural Housing

Representatives Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) are circulating a letter with several funding and programmatic requests related to the Rural Housing Service of the USDA. They are requesting that the Rural Development Voucher Program (RDVP) be expanded to Section 515 properties with maturing mortgages and to Section 514 properties. They also request at least $25.6 million for the RDVP and $50 million for the Section 515 Rural Rental Housing Program. Additionally, the letter includes a request to give the USDA the authority to adjust the value of RD vouchers based on changes in income and household size; currently the value is fixed on factors at the time of issuance. “This will allow the Secretary to base the voucher amount on the fair market rents and 30 percent of tenant income, in accordance with the relevant statute, and remove the barrier to making adjustments for tenants based on changes in income and household size.” The deadline for Members of the House to sign the letter is March 11. Members can contact Esther Kahng at esther.kahng@mail.house.gov to sign.

Community Economic Development Grant Program

Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) is circulating a letter requesting $29.883 million for the Community Economic Development (CED) grant program administered by the Department of Health and Human Services. The CED program provides grants directly to local non-profit community development corporations serving low-income urban and rural communities. “Every $1 in CED grant funds leverages $3-5 in additional private and public funds. Therefore, a CED appropriation of $30 million has the potential to leverage up to $150 million in outside investment,” wrote Senator Baldwin. “Furthermore, the program promotes economic self-sufficiency by requiring that low income individuals fill 75 percent of the jobs that are created using CED grants.” The deadline for signing on is March 14. Senators can contact Erica Augustine at erica_augustine@baldwin.senate.gov to sign the letter.

Representative Ron Kind (D-WI) is also circulating a letter requesting $29.883 million in funding for the CED grant program. Mr. Kind highlights the ability of the program to create “thousands of jobs for low income individuals and over $100 million of investment in rural and urban communities across America.” The deadline for signing on is March 21. Members can contact Elizabeth Stower at elizabeth.stower@mail.house.gov to sign the letter.

View the House TBRA letter at: http://bit.ly/1oW4E2E 

View the House Homeless Assistance letter at: http://bit.ly/24Gyzg6 

View the Senate Homeless Assistance/TBRA letter at: http://bit.ly/21KTwHy 

View the Senate HOME letter at: http://bit.ly/1Tf8qB8 

View the House HOME letter at: http://bit.ly/1QYcd5I  

View the Senate CDBG letter at: http://bit.ly/1oVZweM 

View the Senate HOPWA letter at: http://bit.ly/1LYRzL1

View the House HOPWA letter at: http://bit.ly/1SoCh9d

View the House Rural Housing letter at: http://bit.ly/21KYaFD

View the Senate CED letter at: http://bit.ly/1TVbkLp  

View the House CED letter at: http://bit.ly/1LYONWg