House approves HUD Budget

The House of Representatives approved HUD’s FY2008 Budget on November 14, 2007. The final budget had been reconciled with the Senate. The Senate is expected to approve the bill this week. However, the House vote was not enough to override a Presidential veto. The vote was 270 in favor and 147 opposed. The votes against are two more than required to sustain a veto. The three negative votes from New Jersey were Congressmen Scott Garrett, Rodney Frelinghuysen and Jim Saxton.

To see all votes for and against click here.

Those opposing are similar but the not same as those who signed onto the Republican Study Committee that committed themselves to oppose all funding bills that exceed the President’s request. Congressman Scott Garrett is the only one on both lists. To view the list click here.

According to the NY Times “Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, said Democrats intended to gather 11 stalled spending bills into one package and halve the $22 billion difference between what Congress has approved and what President Bush has said he will accept.” The White House rejected that offer. To read the NY Times article click here.

According to National Association for County Community and Economic Development (NACCED) “Democratic leaders in both the House and Senate have not decided on an end game strategy regarding domestic spending bills, all of which face a presidential veto. They are hoping to negotiate a compromise with the administration. The president has insisted that the bills not exceed the $933 billion total he requested in his FY 2008 budget. The congressional budget resolution passed last spring provides an additional $23 billion in domestic spending above the president’s request. The likely impasse will keep Congress in session until Christmas Eve.”

The following is an overview by NACCED of the HUD Budget. To view a chart prepared by the National Low Income Housing Coalition of the budget click here.

Late last week a House-Senate Conference Committee reconciled the differences between the House and Senate versions of H.R. 3074, the $105.6 billion FY 2008 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies appropriations bill clearing the way for its expected passage at the end of this week. The full House is scheduled to take up the bill today, with Senate consideration to come shortly thereafter. The bill, however, faces a veto threat because it exceeds the president’s budget request. The bill appropriates $38.66 billion for HUD’s housing and community development programs, $2.45 billion above the amount provided for FY 2007 and $3.1 billion above what the president requested.

As reported earlier, the bill rejects the president’s $1 billion cut in the Community Development Block Grant formula funds, and it provides nearly $100 million over this year’s $3.71 billion. Included in the bill is an additional $183.5 million for project-specific Economic Development Initiative grants. Also included is $205 million for Section 108 loan guarantees.

The formula portion of the HOME Investment Partnerships Program is funded at $1.67 billion, a level that is slightly below this year’s.

In an effort to address the meltdown in the subprime mortgage market, the bill includes $200 million in foreclosure mitigation assistance through the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation. These funds will be distributed through a competitive process to areas and states with high rates of defaults and foreclosures. Counseling intermediaries with demonstrated experience and expertise are expected to assist thousands of borrowers with mortgage modification and restructuring to help preserve their homes.

The bill provides 15,500 new Section-8 vouchers. $75 million is designated for 7,500 vouchers for homeless veterans in permanent supportive housing. $30 million is earmarked for 4,000 non-elderly, disabled individuals and families, and an additional $30 million is provided to support 4,000 households in a Family Unification Program, which provides vouchers for families so that children will not be separated from parents because of a lack of housing.

The HOPE VI demolition and replacement of severely distressed public housing program gets $120 million, $21 million above this year’s level of $99 million. The president’s FY 2008 budget proposed to zero-out the program, something it has attempted to do for the last six years. The public housing operating fund would receive $4.2 billion for FY 2008, $336 million above FY 2007 and $200 million above the president’s request. The public housing capital fund is funded at $2.44 billion. Also the Housing Opportunities Program for Persons with AIDS program is funded at $300.1 million.

Renewal of Section-8 tenant-based vouchers is set at $16.4 billion, $516 million above FY 2007 and $436 million beyond the president’s request. This funding is expected to renew 1.9 million vouchers currently in use. The Section-8 project-based voucher program is funded at $6.4 billion, $405 million above FY 2007 and $568 million above the president’s request. This will result in maintaining affordable housing for 1.3 million low-and very-low-income families and individuals, two-thirds of whom are elderly or disable.

The Section 202 housing for the elderly program is funded at $735 million, the same as this year and $200 million above the president’s request, and the Section 811 disabled housing program gets level-funded at $237 million. Homeless housing programs are funded at $1.585 billion, the same amount as the president’s request.

The Brownfields redevelopment program is also level-funded at $10 million, rejecting the president’s call for eliminating the program, and the rural housing and economic development program is level-funded at $17 million, also rejecting the president’s recommendation that the program be zeroed-out.

Finally, the lead hazard reduction program would get $145 million, $29 million over the president’s request, to protect children against lead paint and mold.

Since none of the FY 2008 appropriations bills have been signed by the president, Congress must pass another “Continuing Resolution” (CR) to keep the government running passed the November 16th expiration of the current CR. The next CR is expected to extend through December 14th.