Advocates have two major opportunities in 2022 to advance the HoUSed campaign’s bold agenda of advancing anti-racist policies and achieving the large-scale, sustained investments and reforms necessary to ensure that renters with the lowest incomes have affordable homes. As the new year begins, Congress will soon make critical decisions about whether and how to invest in affordable housing in the “Build Back Better Act” and the fiscal year (FY) 2022 spending bill. Both pieces of legislation provide an opportunity to expand housing resources for the lowest-income and most marginalized households in America. Your advocacy is needed now more than ever.
Build Back Better
The Build Back Better Act is an historic economic recovery package that includes $150 billion for investments in affordable housing and community development programs, including significant funding for the HoUSed campaign’s top policy priorities:
- $25 billion to expand housing vouchers to more than 300,000 households
- $65 billion to preserve public housing for its 2.5 million residents
- $15 billion for the national Housing Trust Fund to build and preserve over 150,000 affordable, accessible homes for households with the lowest incomes
While the House of Representatives voted in November 2021 to approve the Build Back Better Act, the bill stalled in the Senate after Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced on December 19, 2021 that he would not support the recovery package as it is currently written (see Memo, 12/20/21). Congressional leaders are using a process called “budget reconciliation” to advance the bill, which allows Congress to enact legislation with a simple majority in the Senate, rather than the 60 votes typically required in the chamber. For the bill to move forward, it must garner the support of every Democratic senator.
To gain Senator Manchin’s support, congressional leaders will make significant changes to the legislation. Any effort to reduce the size and scope of the economic recovery package puts affordable housing investments at risk of deep cuts or elimination.
As negotiations between the Senate and the administration continue, it is crucial that advocates continue to make their voices heard to protect and advance the bill’s historic affordable housing investments.
FY 2022 Spending Bill
Congress must use every opportunity to move our nation towards universal, stable, and affordable homes for all. The federal appropriations process offers another opportunity to make significant investments in affordable housing, including expanding Housing Choice Vouchers to an additional 125,000 households with low incomes. Lawmakers are set to continue their work on a federal spending bill for FY2022 after enacting a continuing resolution (CR) in December 2021 that extended current levels of funding for federal agencies and programs through February 18 (see Memo, 12/06/21).
The House spending bill, approved in committee in July 2021, would fund HUD programs at $56.6 billion, an increase of $6.8 billion above FY2021. If enacted, the bill would provide significant funding increases to nearly all HUD programs and would expand rental assistance through the Tenant-Based Rental Assistance program to an additional 125,000 households. The Senate proposal, however, would provide HUD over $1 billion less than the House proposal and does not include the major expansion of rental assistance.
If Congress fails to authorize appropriations bills by February 18, it will need to enact another CR or face a government shutdown. Republicans in the Senate have threatened to move forward with a full-year CR, which would have disastrous consequences for affordable housing and community development programs. Because the cost of housing and development programs are tied to market rates, which generally rise every year, flat funding acts as a cut and reduces the number of people being served.
It is vital that advocates urge members of Congress to enact a final spending bill that includes the House proposal to expand rental assistance to an additional 125,000 households.
Both the Build Back Better Act and FY2022 appropriations bill must advance the HoUSed campaign’s bold agenda for affordable housing. We cannot let lawmakers pass up this historic opportunity to make significant investments in affordable housing.
Contact your members of Congress today and urge them to: 1) ensure the historic investments in rental assistance, public housing, and the Housing Trust Fund remain in any final version of the Build Back Better Act, and 2) quickly enact an FY22 spending bill that includes the major expansion of housing vouchers included in the House bill.