NLIHC Joins Other National Organizations in Urging Congress to Fully Fund USDA Rural Development Section 521 Rental Assistance Program

NLIHC and nine other national organizations sent a letter to U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration Chair Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Ranking Member John Hoeven (R-ND) in support of including $1.6 billion for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Section 521 Rental Assistance in the fiscal year (FY) 2023 budget. President Biden included the same level of funding for Section 521 Rental Assistance in his FY23 budget request. The amount is sufficient to renew all current rental assistance contracts covered by the program, as well as those funded under the “American Rescue Plan Act” (ARPA).

The Section 521 Rental Assistance (RA) program is funded annually under the USDA’s Rural Development (RD) Rural Housing Service programs. While President Biden included $1.602 billion for the program in his annual budget request to Congress, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee’s draft FY23 spending bill only provided $1.494 billion for the RA program. If the Senate Appropriations Committee neglects to fund the program at $1.602 billion, the potential reduction in funding would jeopardize rental assistance for over 27,000 households across 3,700 Rural Housing Service properties.

“This reduction of $109 million would equate to RA contracts that were funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) not being renewed,” the letter states. “The undersigned organizations strongly oppose this proposed reduction and fully believe that residents who received RA funding through ARPA should continue to receive it. We therefore recommended the Committee fund the Section 521 program at the $1.602 billion amount.”

ARPA provided other housing programs, such as Housing Choice Vouchers, with increased funding during the 2021 fiscal year, and the President’s budget request and House appropriators maintained high funding levels in the FY23 draft budget to avoid reducing the number of households receiving assistance. Advocates argue reducing the funding for USDA-RD Rental Assistance “would have a devastating impact on low-income rural residents who during this period of high inflation can least afford to have a lifeline taken from them.”

View the letter here: