House Committee's Budget is Mixed Bag for Housing
On April 10, the House Committee on Ways and Means released its FY 07 proposed budget. The budget is a mixed-bag for housing. The budget provides $100.6 million for Department of Housing and Community Development line-items, an increase of nearly $9 million from FY 06. However, it is just slightly above what Governor Romney proposed in January and far short of the $137 million allocated ten years ago.
The Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP), Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP), and the public housing operating subsidy account would all see increases, and there is valuable new data collection language contained in the MRVP and Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) line-items. However, the MRVP increase in only one-tenth of what was requested, the public housing operating subsidy does not include funds that remain in conference committee as part of a supplemental budget, RAFT would be cut by $1 million, and there is no line-item for the Individual Self-Sufficiency Initiative (ISSI) for homeless individuals. The committee also eliminated a proposed expansion of the Tenancy Preservation Program (TPP) for people with disabilities.
Click here to view the committee's budget recommendations (DHCD's accounts begin with 7004). To see how CHAPA's priorities fared, click here. Numerous amendments were filed by the 5:00 p.m. deadline yesterday, and budget debate will begin on Monday, April 24.
Housing Budget Amendments Filed
Supporters of affordable housing have filed many amendments to improve the FY 07 budget recommended by the House Committee on Ways and Means. Some of these amendments also reflect legislation that has been stalled in conference committees since last fall. Amendments were due yesterday, and the House Clerk's office is still compiling those that were filed. Here is a partial list of amendments that may be of interest to CHAPA members. The numbers are subject to change. To view the text of each amendment, click here.
Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP): Representative Sciortino has been joined by more than 50 of his colleagues in sponsoring amendment #1212. This amendment would specify that DHCD may convert mobile vouchers to project-based vouchers and it increases the MRVP account by $10 million over the FY 06 level.
Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF): The two amendments filed relative to the AHTF would each add $5 million to the trust fund. Representative Peisch's amendment (#1233) would earmark the money to preserve expiring use properties because of the Governor's unwillingness to release the approximately $17 million in bond funds that should be available for this purpose. Representative Sanchez's amendment (#991) would set the money aside to assist homebuyers in obtaining affordable homes.
Local Housing Authorities: Representative Fennell (#1148) would add language (similar to what is pending in the supplemental budget in conference committee) to the public housing operating subsidy account indicating the minimum amount that must be spent for increases to non-utility allowable expenses.
Data Collection: Representative Marzilli and twelve of his colleagues filed amendment #667 that would require DHCD to begin a data collection program and ascertain who is benefiting from various housing programs it administers.
Housing Consumer Education Centers (HCEC): At least three amendments have been filed for the HCEC. Representative Sanchez (#991) would add $500,000 to the account. Representative Coakley-Rivera (#627) would make language changes to the line-item, so that it conforms with the FY 06 language. Representative Gobi (#773) would add the $500,000 and make the language changes.
Historic Tax Credit: Representative Keenan and others filed amendment #1005 that would recapitalize the historic tax credit as recommended in the economic stimulus package now pending in conference committee.
Individual Self Sufficiency Initiative (ISSI): Representative LeDuc (#1237), with 20 colleagues, filed an amendment to provide $1 million to reinstate the ISSI program for homeless individuals.
Residential Assistance for Families in Transition: Representative LeDuc (#1239), this time with more than 40 cosponsors, filed an amendment to add $1 million to the RAFT account, thereby bringing it to $5 million, the level it was funded at in FY 06.
Soft Second Mortgage: Representative Sanchez (#1002) filed an amendment to increase funding for the Soft Second program by $2.5 million to a total of $5 million.
Brownfields: Representatives Torrisi and Rodrigues filed amendments #538-543 that would recapitalize the Brownfields account and make other changes as recommended in the economic stimulus package that is still pending in conference committee.
Tenancy Preservation Program (TPP): Representative Jones (#1183) has filed an amendment to expand the TPP for people with disabilities who are facing an eviction as a result of their disability.
CHAPA will send out a comprehensive alert next week with information on what our members can do to ensure their voices are heard during budget deliberations. For more information, call Chris at 617-742-0820.