On August 1, the U.S. Senate passed the Fiscal Year 2019 Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) appropriations bill. This appropriations bill funds important HUD programs such as Housing Choice Vouchers, Project-Based Rental Assistance, and Public Housing, among many others. The HUD funding bill was included in a package that funded three other departments and was passed with broad bi-partisan support, 92-6. The House of Representatives, which has reported a funding bill out of the House Appropriations Committee, has yet to bring their version of the bill to the floor for a vote. The fiscal year begins October 1, 2018 and the House is in recess until September.
The Senate bill, like the House committee bill, rejects calls to drastically cut housing investments – in the form of funding cuts, harmful rent increases, rigid work requirements -- proposed by the White House. Notably, the Senate bill provides enough funding to renew all existing Housing Choice Vouchers ($20.5 billion).
The Senate bill also increases funding for public housing ($2.77 billion for capital repairs and $4.77 billion for operating), Homeless Assistance Grants ($2.6 billion), Family Self-Sufficiency ($80 million), Healthy Homes & Lead Hazard Control ($260 million), and the Office of Policy Development and Research ($100 million). The bill renews all contracts for Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities ($154 million) and provides enough funding for new construction under Section 202 Housing for the Elderly ($678 million). The Senate funds the HOME Investment Partnerships program ($1.36 billion), Community Development Block Grants ($3.36 billion) at the robust 2018 levels, despite calls for elimination by the president.
Several amendments impacting federal affordable housing programs were added to the Senate spending bill, including:
- An amendment introduced by Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) that would direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture to report to Congress on the agency’s strategy – and the tools and resources needed – to preserve affordable rental homes in rural America.
- An amendment introduced by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) that would direct HUD to ensure landlords cannot unlawfully evict or deny housing to people based on their status as survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
- An amendment introduced by Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) that requires HUD and the Environmental Protection Agency to report on efforts related to the removal of lead-based paint and other hazardous materials.
- An amendment introduced by Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) that would prohibit people charged with certain crimes from receiving housing assistance.
The U.S. House of Representatives is in recess until September. Advocates hope the House will follow the lead of the Senate and pass a strong HUD funding bill ahead of the September 30th deadline.