Congress Risks Housing With Continuing Resolution

Continuing Resolution from Congress Would Deeply Cut Housing Programs

Congress remains at an impasse over how to fund the federal government for the new fiscal year that begins on October 1, 2016. creating the possibility of a government shutdown or a long-term continuing resolution.

Congress has failed to enact any of the 12 federal spending bills for FY17, including those that fund affordable housing and community development.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition reports that Congress now has less than four weeks before the October 1 deadline to pass a stopgap funding measure, known as a Continuing Resolution (CR), to fund the federal government and avert a shutdown.

A CR carries forward funding levels from the previous year. The question at hand is how long any CR will last—and what impact it will have on Congress’s ability to enact final FY17 spending bills.

A CR that extends into next year would be problematic for housing and community development programs.

  • A long-term CR at FY16 levels would result in deep cuts to critical housing programs that could cause thousands of families and children to lose access to stable housing, putting them at increased risk of homelessness. For FY17, HUD needs approximately $1 billion more than FY16 spending levels to maintain current program levels and renew existing housing assistance contracts. This increase will help to keep all families using tenant and project-based rental assistance in their homes, including veterans who have recently received HUD Veterans Affairs Supporting Housing (VASH) vouchers.
  • A long-term CR would put other vital affordable housing investments at risk. Both the House and Senate proposed bills for HUD would increase resources for affordable housing programs—$1.2 billion and $1.5 billion, respectively—to help provide affordable, stable housing for more seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, and people experiencing homelessness. Both bills propose needed increases for critical programs including Housing Choice Vouchers and Homeless Assistance Grants. In addition, the House and Senate bills provide level funding or modest increases for programs including HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) program and Community Development Block Grants (CDBG.)

In summary, a long-term CR would intensify the nation’s affordable housing crisis. There is a current shortage of more than 7.2 million units of housing that are affordable and available to the nation’s 10.4 million extremely low income households, those with incomes at or below 30% of area median incomes. Seventy-five percent of these households are severely housing cost-burdened, spending more than half of their incomes on their housing.

To address the affordability crisis and build on recent progress in decreasing homelessness in the U.S., Congress should pass appropriations bills for HUD that will increase the number of families who are able to afford modest homes. A long-term CR would make it more difficult for America’s most vulnerable families to access safe, decent, and affordable housing.

It is important that advocates weigh in now with lawmakers and ask that they oppose a long-term CR and work towards passing full-year FY17 spending bills, free of policy riders, as soon as possible.

Click here for more details from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

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More on this Issue from the NLIHC

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