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. For more details about the proposal, see NLIHC’s full analysis of the Senate bill and updated budget chart. Read NLIHC’s analysis of the House draft spending bill here.
The Senate draft bill 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. 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 allowed for domestic programs in FY25.
Despite these 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 proposes 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 to 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. Still other 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”).
Senate Appropriations Committee members met the same day to review and vote on the bill, a process known as “Committee markup.” In her opening remarks, Chair Murray praised the bill for providing needed funding increases to ensure housing assistance programs – like TBRA and PBRA – would be fully renewed and for increased assistance for HAG.
“The investments in this bill are critical to make sure people aren’t left on the streets or out in the cold and to get people and goods where they need to go in a safe, timely way,” she said. “I’m glad we are able to maintain and build on some key investments in this bill that provide rental assistance to families in need, increase our housing supply, support maintenance for distressed properties, and connect people with health care, financial education, employment programs, and other support services.”
“Good steps to be sure,” she continued, “but I want to make it clear that the housing and homelessness crisis in this country will take a lot more than the flat funding in most areas and the modest funding increases in some programs we’ve managed to negotiate under the tough caps in the debt ceiling deal. I hope we can come together in a bipartisan way to talk about the kind of investments and policies we will need to really tackle these challenges in a serious way.”
“Despite a challenging budget year, the bill maintains existing rental assistance for more than 4.6 million households and continues to make meaningful investments aimed at tackling homelessness,” said Vice Chair Collins. “I thank Ranking Member Hyde-Smith for her work in crafting this legislation, and as the Vice Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, I will continue to advocate for this funding as the appropriations process moves forward.”
“We [are maintaining] federal rental assistance on which working families, seniors, and others rely, while also adding resources to end homelessness among veterans and youth,” said THUD Ranking Member Hyde-Smith during the markup. THUD Chair Schatz agreed in his remarks, noting “our bill directly addresses America’s housing crisis by protecting affordable housing and homeless assistance programs that will help nearly 10 million people.”
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 to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to provide short-term funding to keep the federal government running. Failure to adopt one of these approaches would result in a government shutdown.