The U.S. Senate’s Committee on Appropriations’ Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) released on July 20 its draft spending bill for fiscal year (FY) 2024. Overall, the bill provides $70.06 billion for HUD’s affordable housing, homelessness, and community development programs, an increase of $8.26 billion (or slightly more than 13%) over FY23-enacted levels. HUD needs to increase funding by approximately $13 billion just to maintain existing levels of assistance.
The Senate draft proposes $1.86 billion more in funding for HUD’s vital affordable housing and homelessness programs than the draft spending bill released by the U.S. House of Representatives on July 11. (Read NLIHC’s analysis of the House bill here. For a comparison between FY23-enacted funding levels, the funding levels proposed in President Biden’s budget request, and the House’s funding request, see NLIHC’s updated budget chart.)
Appropriations leaders in the Senate drafted their bills according to the austere topline funding caps provided under the “Fiscal Responsibility Act,” the agreement reached between President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) that allowed the federal debt ceiling to be raised. Under the terms of the deal, in exchange for raising the federal debt ceiling until 2025, FY24 spending will be capped at approximately FY23 levels, and a spending increase of only 1% will be permitted for domestic programs in FY25.
Despite the tight topline numbers, and thanks to the hard work and dedication of advocates across the country and our champions in Congress – including THUD Subcommittee Chair Brian Schatz (D-HI), Ranking Member Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA), and Vice-Chair Susan Collins (R-ME) – the Senate THUD bill provides increased funding for key HUD programs, particularly those vital to getting or keeping people with the lowest incomes housed.
The bill proposes funding the Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) and Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) programs at levels expected to be sufficient to renew existing contracts and provides funding for an additional 4,000 vouchers targeted to veterans at risk of or experiencing homelessness and youth aging out of foster care.
The bill proposes an increase to HUD’s Homeless Assistance Grants (HAG) program, which is vital for connecting people experiencing homelessness with the resources and support they need to find and maintain safe, stable housing. The bill also increases funding for the Native American Housing Block Grant and Public Housing Operating Fund and preserves $20 million for legal assistance to prevent evictions – all NLIHC priorities.
Other important programs would receive increased funding, including Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) and the recently authorized Grants to Identify and Remove Barriers to Affordable Housing program. Others programs, including Tribal Housing Competitive funds, Native Hawaiian Block Grants, the HOME Investment Partnership Program (HOME), Section 202 Housing for the Elderly, Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities, Housing Counseling Assistance, and fair housing programs, would receive level funding.
Only several HUD programs would be subject to funding cuts under the Senate’s proposal, including the Public Housing Capital Fund, Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, and the Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard program. The Community Development Fund would also face a cut, but only in congressionally directed spending (also known as “earmarks”).
The Senate Appropriations Committee released the draft THUD spending bill, held a meeting on the bill, and voted to approve it on the same day. Senate Appropriations Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and Vice-Chair Susan Collins (R-ME) are aiming to ensure that all 12 spending bills for FY24 pass out of the committee before Congress adjourns for August recess.
The Senate bills represent the “high water mark” for appropriations funding in the coming fiscal year. While Senate appropriators wrote their bills according to the agreed-upon topline in the “Fiscal Responsibility Act,” House appropriators – caving to the demands of the far-right House Freedom Caucus – wrote their domestic spending bills to FY22 levels. While the House THUD bill proposes to cut funding drastically and even zero out funding for some HUD programs, it spares some key programs that get or keep the lowest-income people housed.
The discrepancy between House and Senate funding levels foreshadows what will likely be a contentious appropriations process when Congress returns from recess in September. Appropriators have until September 30 either to reach an agreement on spending bills for FY24 or pass a continuing resolution (CR) to provide short-term funding to keep the federal government running. Failure to take one of these approaches would result in a government shutdown.
Now that the House and Senate bills have both been released, appropriators will need to turn their attention to reaching a compromise funding bill with enough bipartisan support to pass both chambers.
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 program were spared from cuts in both the House and Senate bills. Yet 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!
- August recess is the perfect time for advocates to schedule in-district meetings with their members of Congress to urge them to support higher funding for affordable housing and homelessness programs. Check out NLIHC’s updated Congressional Recess Toolkit for information on how to set up in-district meetings, meeting tips, talking points, and more.
- Join over 2,000 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.
Tenant-Based Rental Assistance
The Senate bill proposes increasing funding for HUD’s Tenant-Based Rental Assistance program (TBRA) by $1.48 billion above FY23-enacted levels, to a total of $31.7 billion, which is expected to be sufficient to ensure all existing TBRA contracts are fully renewed.
The Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) program would receive $30 million, a $20 million decrease in funding from FY23-enacted levels, and provide $7.5 million to serve Native American veterans, ensuring level funding from the previous fiscal year. The bill would also provide $30 million for the Family Unification Program. Between VASH and FUP, the bill would provide sufficient funding for 4,000 new vouchers for young people aging out of foster care and veterans experiencing or at risk of homelessness. This increase in vouchers was not included in the House THUD proposal.
The bill would also provide $686 million for Section 811 mainstream vouchers, an increase of $78 million from FY23 and equivalent to the funding increase proposed in the House bill.
Project-Based Rental Assistance
The Senate spending proposal would provide $15.7 billion to renew Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) contracts, an increase of $884 million from FY23, and $29 million less than the increase provided in the House THUD proposal. As with TBRA, increased funding is crucial to maintain services provided to households in need. This amount is expected to be sufficient to renew existing contracts.
The Senate calls for $3.9 billion for the Homeless Assistance Grants (HAG) program, a $275 million increase in funding from FY23-enacted levels, and $179 million more than is proposed in the House bill. HAG provides crucial assistance for communities to address the needs of people experiencing homelessness.
The funding provided for HAG includes $100 million for the construction, preservation, and operation of permanent supportive housing, and $31 million for capacity-building grants and technical assistance. The bill also provides language that would allow HUD to complete funds every other year, cut down on time and resources spent on paperwork, and allow service providers to focus on delivering assistance.
The spending bill proposes $3.3 billion for public housing capital needs, a slight decrease of $70 million from FY23, but still $75 million more than what is proposed in the House bill. This assistance includes formula funding and $30 million for emergency capital needs, $65 million to address lead-based paint hazards, and $15 million to support putting troubled or substandard public housing authorities (PHAs) into an administrative or judicial receivership.
The bill provides $5.5 billion for public housing operating costs, an increase of $431 million from FY23. Operating support includes both formula funding and $35 million to be allocated based on need. In addition, the bill allocates $50 million to bolster HUD’s work conducting assisted housing inspections and risk assessments, including for training, travel, and program support.
HOME Investment Partnerships
The Senate proposes to fund the HOME program at $1.5 billion, level funding from FY23, and $1 billion more than what was provided in the House bill. The HOME program faced the steepest cut in the House’s proposal, without having funding cut entirely.
Community Development Block Grants
The Senate bill would provide approximately $4.5 billion for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program – a decrease of almost $1.9 billion from the previous fiscal year. However, of that amount $3.3 billion is allocated for formula funding, while approximately $1.06 billion is earmarked for specific community development projects. The Senate proposal would also provide $100 million in funding for grants to identify and remove barriers to affordable housing – a $15 million increase from FY23. The program is zeroed out in the House draft.
The Senate calls for level funding from FY23 for HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, proposing a total of $86 million. This is only $1 million more than is proposed in the House bill; however, the Senate does not have language barring HUD funds from being used to implement or enforce HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule – a provision included in the House bill.
Section 202 Housing for the Elderly & Section 811 Housing for People with Disabilities
The Senate bill proposes level funding from FY23 for both the Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program and the Section 811 program to support affordable, accessible housing for people with disabilities, resulting in a total of just over $1 billion for Section 202 and $360 million for Section 811.
As with other rental assistance programs, it is crucial that Section 202 and Section 811 accounts receive increased funding every year just to maintain the number of people currently being served by the programs. However, the Senate bill provides $162 million more for Section 202 and $152 million more for Section 811 than the House proposal.
The Senate FY24 spending bill would provide $848 million for formula Native American Housing and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA) program funding, an increase of $61 million from FY23-enacted levels, but less than the $1.1 billion provided in the House bill. The bill would provide level funding – $150 million – for NAHASDA’s competitive housing programs. Competitive NAHASDA funding would still be targeted to tribes with the most severe housing needs, as suggested by NLIHC.
The Senate bill calls for $350 million to reduce lead-based paint and other health hazards, $60 million below FY23-enacted levels, and $5 million more than the House’s proposal. These programs provide financial assistance to very low- and extremely low-income communities to help mitigate and abate the impacts of residential health hazards, including mold, lead, and asbestos, among others.
Other HUD Programs
The Senate bill would provide $20 million for legal assistance to prevent evictions, level funding from FY23; the program is zeroed out in the House bill. This funding must be included in any final bill; otherwise, Congress will miss a critical opportunity to expand legal assistance to thousands of low-income residents at risk of eviction, at a time when eviction filings in many cities are surpassing pre-pandemic levels. NLIHC has been advocating for at least $100 million for legal assistance to prevent evictions in the FY24 budget.
The bill includes $57.5 million for housing counseling, level from FY23-enacted funding and the funding proposed in the House bill.
The Senate bill would provide $150 million for the Choice Neighborhoods grant program, a decrease of $200 million from FY23-appropriated levels. The program is unfunded in the House bill.
The Senate also proposes increasing funding for the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program to $140 million – an increase of $15 million from the previous fiscal year. The Jobs-Plus program would receive level funding, at $15 million.
Funding for the Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) program would increase to $505 million, or approximately $6 million more than the FY23-enacted level and on par with the House request.
The bill provides $4.3 million to fund the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which is responsible for coordinating the federal response to the needs of people experiencing homelessness.
The bill would also authorize a new pilot program allowing up to eight PHAs to use their Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) for leasing-related expenses, including security and utility deposits. Expenses like security deposits and other miscellaneous fees have not historically been covered by HAP, making it more difficult for renters utilizing a voucher to find housing. Increased flexibility to help with these expenses may help increase voucher leasing, especially in well-resourced areas.