Spending Caps Curb Housing and Homeless Funding

Federal Budget Update
HUD Markup May 13th

Hill UpdateThe House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) passed its FY16 appropriations bill on April 29, 2015 by voice vote. The full House Committee on Appropriations is expected to consider the bill on May 13, 2015.

The bill, written to comply with the Budget Control Act’s strict sequester caps for non-defense discretionary spending, would cut or underfund many housing programs in FY16 and direct all National Housing Trust Fund resources into the HOME program in FY16.

In his opening statement, Subcommittee Chair Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) discussed the challenges for the bill.

“Many of the financial holes we face in crafting this bill are due to factors beyond our control. If we wrote the bill at higher levels we’d be subject to sequestration.”

Said Chair Mario Diaz-Balart.

Subcommittee Ranking Member David Price (D-NC) expressed concern about the bill’s decreased funds for public housing and healthy housing programs, and blamed budget issues outside of the THUD subcommittee for the bill’s low numbers.

“The House majority has stood in the way of the sort of broad budget agreement that balanced the budget in the 1990s. The House has failed to seriously address the main drivers of the deficit – tax expenditures and entitlement spending – returning again and again to appropriations, and especially critical domestic investments, to bear the whole brunt of deficit reduction …”

The House THUD Subcommittee bill would provide sufficient funds to renew existing housing choice vouchers if HUD uses the authority provided in the bill to offset voucher funding allocations based on “excess” public housing agency reserves. The bill does not provide vouchers to restore the remaining 67,000 vouchers lost due to the 2013 sequester cuts.

HUD’s homeless assistance programs receive a $50 million increase in the House THUD Subcommittee bill taking it to $2.185 billion for FY16. According to the House Committee on Appropriations’ press release, the bill “will enable the renewal of all projects meeting performance standards.” HUD requested $2.480 billion for homeless assistance for FY16, the amount needed to fully implement the President’s plan to end chronic homelessness.

The bill would fund the HOME program at $767 million for FY16, compared to its FY15 funding level of $900 million. But the House THUD Subcommittee bill would also divert all of the funds set to go into the NHTF in 2016 into the HOME program.

By diverting the NHTF funds, Subcommittee Chair Diaz-Balart said during the mark-up that the bill provides $900 million for the HOME program. Full House Committee on Appropriations Chair Harold Rogers (R-KY) also noted during the mark-up that the bill funds HOME at $900 million. This can only be achieved by adding $133 million from the NHTF to the $767 million appropriated funds.

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