With just four working days left before their September 30 deadline, policymakers in the U.S. Congress are running out of time to reach an agreement on a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the federal government funded. Failure to pass a CR before October 1 – the beginning of the new fiscal year – will result in a partial shutdown of the federal government. The last government shutdown occurred in December 2018 and lasted 35 days.
CRs maintain the previously appropriated year’s level of funding for federal programs for a specified period of time, giving lawmakers more time to reach an agreement on appropriations bills for the upcoming fiscal year (FY). Because the cost of housing and development rises every year, it is crucial that HUD’s affordable housing and homelessness assistance programs receive increased annual appropriations just to maintain the current number of people and communities served. Without additional funding, people who rely on HUD’s programs for safe, stable housing will be in danger of losing their assistance.
Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives unveiled a CR proposing a 30-day funding extension, in exchange for an 8% across-the-board cut to federal nondefense programs, except programs run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The bill also contained conservative border security priorities and did not provide additional funding for disaster relief – proposals that would render the bill dead-on-arrival in the U.S. Senate. Still, House Republicans could not reach an agreement within their caucus on the CR, with House Freedom Caucus and other ultra-conservative members pushing for a bill that would also decrease funding for FY24, including draconian cuts of up to 30% for non-defense programs.
In the Senate, a planned vote on a “minibus” bill containing the FY24 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) funding bill ground to a halt after some Senate Republicans refused to provide unanimous consent to move the bill forward (see Memo, 9/18). Unable to find a resolution that would allow the package to move forward, Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and Vice-Chair Susan Collins (R-ME) pivoted instead to drafting a bipartisan CR that would likely pass the Senate before being sent to the House for a vote. However, it is unclear whether House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) would be willing to bring the CR to the floor as it currently stands.
Any further delay in passing a CR will bring the country perilously close to a government shutdown. Even short-term shutdowns have immediate consequences for HUD programs and the people, families, and communities who rely on them. Many affordable housing and community development projects would be forced to freeze, and HUD staff would have to cease many non-emergency operations. While tenants who receive rental assistance would see little immediate impact in the short term, a long-term shutdown could impact Public Housing Authorities’ (PHAs) ability to continue providing housing assistance.
Together, we can – and have – achieved historic protections and resources for renters with the lowest incomes, and together we can continue to fight the ongoing threat of cuts to HUD’s vital affordable housing and homelessness resources. Advocates can use NLIHC’s Legislative Action Center to call or email their members of Congress and urge them to expand – not cut – funding for HUD’s vital affordable housing and homelessness programs in the FY24 budget.
Thanks to the hard work of advocates across the country, who mobilized to weigh in with their elected officials, HUD’s vital rental assistance, homelessness assistance, and tribal housing programs were spared from cuts in the Senate draft bill. Due to the rampant increase in the cost of rent, however, the House’s proposed funding for the Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) program is not expected to be sufficient to cover renewals for all existing contracts. Thus, advocates still have work to do to ensure these funding levels remain in a final bill and that other critical programs, such as Public Housing, are also fully funded.
Keep making your voice heard, and tell Congress that it cannot balance the federal budget at the expense of people with the lowest incomes! Advocates can take action TODAY in the following ways:
- Contact your senators and representatives to urge them to expand – not cut – investments in affordable, accessible homes through the FY24 spending bill, including by:
- Providing the Senate’s proposed funding for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) and Project-Based Rental Assistance programs. While both the House and Senate provided increased funding for these vital programs, it is unlikely that the House’s proposed funding levels would be sufficient to renew all existing contracts. The Senate bill provides funding not only sufficient to renew existing voucher contracts, but to expand vouchers to an additional 4,000 households.
- Ensuring full funding for public housing operations and repairs. Both the House and Senate bill proposed funding cuts to the Public Housing Capital Fund, despite an over $70 billion capital needs backlog in the public housing portfolio. While the Senate bill provided increased funding for Public Housing Operations – which the House bill cut – it is crucial that these programs receive increased funding in FY24 just to maintain the current level of services.
- Allocating the Senate’s proposed funding for Homeless Assistance Grants. HUD’s Homeless Assistance Grants (HAG) program provides vital funding to respond to the needs of people experiencing homelessness.
- Protecting funding for legal assistance to prevent evictions in the Senate bill. The Senate maintains $20 million in funding for a new grant program for legal assistance to prevent evictions, which the House proposal eliminated.
- Appropriating the House’s proposed funding for Native housing. While both the House and Senate bills would provide increased funding for native housing programs, the House spending bill would provide a more than 40% increase from FY23 to the Native American Housing Block Grant program – a significant investment towards addressing the housing crisis on tribal lands.
- Join over 2,100 organizations by signing on to a national letter from the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding (CHCDF), calling on Congress to oppose budget cuts and instead to support the highest level of funding possible for affordable housing, homelessness, and community development resources in FY24.
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