Senate Appropriators Moving Forward with Housing Spending Bill

Highest Funding Levels Critical to Ensure that Opportunity Starts at Home in NJ

On September 12, 2019, the U.S. Senate adopted its 302(b) allocations for Fiscal Year (FY) 20 last week.

The 302(b) allocations provide appropriations subcommittees with top-line funding levels for their fiscal year (FY) 2020 spending bills. The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) funding level was set at $74.3 billion.  This funding level is about $1.5 billion less than the $75.8 billion that the House proposed spending.  The THUD Budget includes funding for the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and its affordable housing and homelessness programs.
The House proposed spending levels were significantly higher than the funding levels in President Trump’s proposed budget.  The FY 19 Enacted level for THUD was $7.1. billion.  
The House bill included legislative language to halt cruel proposals from the President to evict mixed-status immigrant families from assisted housing and to roll back LGBT protections.  Moreover, the House bill includes legislative language to halt cruel proposals from the President to evict mixed-status immigrant families from assisted housing and to roll back LGBT protections. 
The committee vote on the allocations was along party lines. Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT) offered alternative allocations that would move funds for Homeland Security to other nondefense priorities, including more than a billion additional dollars for the THUD spending bill.
Providing the highest possible funding levels for critical affordable and homeless programs would support the Federal Policy Priorities of the 2019 Congressional Reception in Washington, D.C.  The theme of this year’s Congressional Reception was Opportunity Starts at Home: Building a Necessary and Secure Foundation for Healthy Communities. 
Requests in those policy priorities included:  
  • For Housing and Services, we request that our elected officials support an increase of $217 million to $2.6 billion in funding for the McKinney- Vento Homeless Assistance Grants. The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants help Americans experiencing homelessness receive adequate outreach, shelter, transitional housing, supportive services, rent subsidies, and permanent housing. This increase will ensure that people impacted by homelessness receive necessary services in order to produce change. 
  • For Affordable Homes, we request that our elected officials protect and expand the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program to help connect families to areas of opportunity with access to good schools, well- paying jobs, healthcare and transit. Vouchers have proven to reduce child poverty, stabilize families, and contribute to healthy communities. Fully funding vouchers in use, increasing the number of vouchers, and incentivizing state and regional voucher administration are essential in ensuring accessible and affordable homes for all Americans. 
With top-line numbers now in hand and only 7 working days left until federal funding expires at the end of the month, Senate appropriators are working quickly to complete FY20 spending bills. The chamber scheduled subcommittee markups for THUD on September 17.  It is anticipated the bills will head to full committee for consideration on Thursday, September 19.
On the U.S. House side, appropriators are working on readjusting funding levels in preparation for negotiations with the Senate.  The top-line numbers they initially used provided more funding for non-defense programs than the signed budget deal. 
Congress needs to pass all twelve funding bills or a stopgap funding measure before the start of the new fiscal year on Tuesday, October 1, 2019.  As appropriations negotiations unfold, it is critical that Congress provides the highest possible funding levels for critical affordable housing and homelessness programs.  

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