The Senate approved by a vote of 84-9 on October 31 a four-bill FY20 spending package that increases funding for affordable housing and community development investments at HUD and USDA, as well as several positive amendments. This outcome is due to the influence of affordable housing advocates and to the leadership of strong congressional champions, including Transportation–HUD (THUD) Appropriations Chair Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-RI). While the passage of this bill is an important step in the funding process, the House and Senate still need to reach an agreement on a final spending bill to ensure continued funding for federal programs and avoid a government shutdown. The government is currently operating under a stop-gap continuing resolution through November 21.
The House spending package provides modest funding increases for affordable housing programs and rejects President Trump’s call for deep cuts to and even the elimination of affordable housing investments. Overall, the bill provides HUD programs with more than $11.9 billion above the president’s FY20 request and $2.3 billion above FY19 enacted levels – an amount likely sufficient to renew all existing rental assistance contracts and to provide level funding or modest increases to most other programs. The bill does include cuts to some programs, including Choice Neighborhoods, Housing for Persons with AIDS, Indian Housing Block Grants, and Community Development Block Grants, and the legislation fails to match important increases included in the House bill, which was passed prior to a budget agreement on overall spending levels.
The Senate also approved several amendments that help protect and expand affordable housing. These amendments included one offered by Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) allowing USDA to extend rental assistance agreements for projects financed by existing Section 514 or 515 loans for up to 20 years, ensuring residents of these properties can remain affordably housed for a longer period of time.
Another amendment from Senator Smith prioritizes maintenance of USDA rural housing properties through capital repairs, staffing provisions, and enforcement, and an amendment from Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) calls on Congress to create a tax incentive to encourage owners of manufactured home communities to transfer properties to nonprofit organizations and residents to help preserve the homes’ affordability. The Senate also agreed to amendments that would set aside technical assistance funds for the Tribal HUD-VASH program and provide $3 million to carry out the emergency and transitional pet shelter and housing assistance grant program, which helps ensure victims of domestic violence seeking shelter are also able to secure safe shelter for their pets, service animals, or emotional support animals.
The bill does not include important provisions approved by the House that would stop harmful proposals by the Trump administration. The House bill contains language that would prevent HUD from implementing its harmful “mixed-status” immigrant-family rule and would stop HUD from rolling back protections for LGBTQ+ people, including the agency’s Equal Access rule ensuring transgender people have access to emergency shelters and other facilities that match their gender identity.
Read NLIHC’s analysis of the THUD and Agriculture bills at: https://tinyurl.com/y5ycvkuz
Review NLIHC’s budget chart at: https://tinyurl.com/y6tnabuo