The U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate remain out of session for August recess, with the Senate slated to return September 6 and the House returning the following week on September 13. After returning, Congress will have until October 1 to either enact a fiscal year (FY) 2023 spending bill, pass a continuing resolution (CR) – which extends current levels of federal funding for a short time – or risk a government shutdown.
While a shutdown is unlikely, appropriations leaders in the House and Senate have a long way to go before reaching an agreement on FY23 spending. Both chambers have released draft spending bills, and the House bill for Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) would provide roughly $3 billion more for HUD’s vital affordable housing, homelessness, and community development programs than the Senate’s proposal. Because of the even divide in the Senate, appropriators will need to reach a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on funding levels before they are able to move forward with an FY23 spending package. Both the House and Senate draft bills were written by Democrats with little or no Republican input, raising concerns that a final spending package will offer significantly less funding than either the House or Senate drafts.
The FY23 spending bill likely represents the last opportunity this year for Congress to make robust investments in affordable housing and homelessness programs. After missing the opportunity to provide targeted affordable housing investments through reconciliation (see Memo, 8/22), Congress cannot pass up the chance to provide the significant funding needed to ensure the nation is moving towards safe, affordable, accessible housing for all.
NLIHC and our partners in the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding (CHCDF) are leading our annual 302(b) letter to demand that Congress provide the highest possible level of funding for affordable housing, homelessness, and community development resources in FY2023. Advocates should contact their members of Congress and urge them to support significant funding for NLIHC’s top priorities:
- $32.13 billion for the Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) program to renew all existing contracts and expand housing vouchers to an additional 200,000 households.
- $5.125 billion for the Public Housing Capital Fund to preserve public housing, and $5.06 billion for the Public Housing Operating Fund.
- $3.6 billion for HUD’s Homeless Assistance Grants program to address the needs of people experiencing homelessness.
- $100 million for legal assistance to prevent evictions.
- $300 million for the competitive tribal housing program, targeted to tribes with the greatest needs.
Additionally, Congress is expected to enact a tax extenders package before the end of the year. Many tax provisions are only authorized for a set number of years, forcing Congress to periodically reevaluate and decide whether to extend expiring tax provisions. With a number of tax provisions up for extension at the end of the year, the tax extenders package represents an opportunity to make needed legislative changes to the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program so that it better serves households with the lowest incomes.
Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Todd Young (R-IN), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and former Senator John Isakson (R-GA), along with Representatives Susan DelBene (D-WA), Don Beyer (D-VA), and former Representatives Jackie Walorski (R-IN) and Kenny Marchant (R-TX) sponsored in 2019 the “Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act” (S.1703/H.R.3077). The bill proposes several key reforms to the LIHTC program that would more deeply target resources to serve households with the lowest incomes, including several of NLIHC’s priority reforms:
- Expanding the LIHTC “basis boost” to 50% to incentivize the development of units affordable to households with the lowest incomes.
- Establishing a 10% set-aside for the development of housing for extremely low-income households.
- Expanding the “basis boost” for rural and tribal areas.
- Strengthening the Right of First Refusal for non-profits to purchase affordable properties.
In addition to pushing Congress for robust funding for affordable housing and homelessness programs in FY23, advocates should continue contacting their members of Congress to urge them to include these provisions in any tax extender package moving forward. Use NLIHC’s August recess advocacy toolkit to help create your message to Congress!