Raises Questions about HUD Housing Assistance and CDBG
At the the end of a nine-hour mark-up on March 16, 2016, the House Budget Committee passed a fiscal year (FY)17 budget resolution by a vote of 20-16. All 14 Democrats and two Republican members of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus opposed the resolution.
By week’s end, the prospects of taking the resolution to the full House were dim as it is unlikely to get past both Democratic and Freedom Caucus objections.
Media reports indicate that the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) may forego any consideration of an FY17 budget resolution altogether and simply move to annual appropriations without any enforceable spending limits.
The FY17 resolution as passed continues to include the $30 billion in increased discretionary funding (sequester relief) provided for in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, but makes drastic cuts to both mandatory and non-defense discretionary programs in the future.
In its budget narrative, the committee is particularly critical of anti-poverty programs and cites the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as having 22 duplicative programs.
On the other hand, the narrative applauds the greater flexibility that Moving to Work affords public housing agencies.
Regarding Housing Assistance,
“This budget calls for making housing-assistance programs more sustainable and to direct federal dollars to serve those most in need. Despite dramatic funding increases, there are still too many families that are severely rent-burdened or living in substandard conditions.”
This budget also supports the reforms listed in H.R. 3700, the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2015. Declaring households ineligible for assistance if they exceed the income and asset limits allows the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to make sure that housing assistance is being provided to those who are most in need.”
The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program comes in for particular criticism for its “far-flung mission (that) reduces the program’s effectiveness and duplicates other programs that HUD or other agencies already operate.”
“This budget calls for a thorough examination of community and regional development programs and for the elimination of those that do not perform core functions of the federal government. Additionally, it would streamline and consolidate duplicative programs.
Historically, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Community Development Fund (CDF) has spent roughly 80 to 90 percent of its funding on the Community Development Block Grant program (CDGB). CDBG is an annual formula grant directed to state and local governments to address a broad array of activities, including historic preservation, removing blighted properties, job training, and grants to small private businesses. Such activities are local in nature and their benefits are felt locally, not nationally. Such a far-flung mission reduces the program’s effectiveness and duplicates other programs that HUD or other agencies already operate. In 2016, $3 billion was appropriated for CDBG, but there is no maximum community poverty rate to be eligible for funds, nor is there an exclusion for communities with high average income. We should not be sending money to communities that can afford to make their own improvements. “