House Approves Big Increases to Housing, Community Development Funding

The House on Tuesday approved a spending package that would provide HUD, particularly community development programs, with the highest funding levels seen in several years. Unfortunately, unless the Senate and the White House agree to the overall spending increases proposed by House Democrats, the funding levels contained in the bill are likely to change.

Along with Transportation-HUD, the minibus spending package included the FY 2020 Commerce-Justice-Science, Military Construction-VA, Agriculture, and Interior-Environment (HR 3052) bills. Consideration of the minibus began last week, and legislators worked through over 200 amendments before final passage of the bill. It was approved by a largely partisan vote of 227-194. A list of approved HUD amendments is below.

NAHRO’s coverage of the legislation, including in-depth analysis, can be found here (member protected).

The House will narrowly miss its target of completing all appropriations work before July, passing 10 of the 12 spending bills before adjourning for the 4th of July recess. The Legislative Branch bill was pulled from a prior spending package because of a controversy over Congressional pay raises and the Homeland Security bill is being held from the floor because of disagreements over border wall funding.

While the House has made significant progress on FY 2020 spending, the Senate has not yet begun its appropriations work. The Budget Control Act of 2011 set arbitrary spending limits on federal spending through FY2021, but Congress has mostly avoided the limits by passing bipartisan budget deals to raise the caps. The current budget deal expires in FY2020 and a new deal will need to be reached to avoid massive spending cuts and sequestration next fiscal year.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) did not want to start writing spending bills until a spending deal is reached. However, with negotiations dragging on and the time to deal with appropriations before the beginning of the fiscal year becoming increasingly limited, Chairman Shelby is expected to instruct appropriators to start consideration of bills in July.

It isn’t clear what spending level the Senate will use, but it seems likely that it will stick with the current FY 2019 level, which is $88 billion lower than the topline level used by the House. As a result, the FY 2020 House and Senate THUD bills are likely to be very different. Unless the Senate and White House agree to a budget deal at the House-proposed level, the funding levels contained in the House THUD bill will almost certainly be lowered in the final version of THUD.

Approved HUD Amendments:

  • Homeless Assistance Grants: Proposed by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Cali.). Increases funding for the Homeless Assistance Grants by $5 million. Another amendment proposed by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash) funding by an additional $1 million, bringing the total funding level to $2.806 billion.
  • Continuum of Care: Proposed by Rep. Lisa Blunt-Rochester (D-Del.). Requires HUD to study the continuum of care program and its impact of awarding transitional family housing grants via competitive assessments and the effectiveness of these programs versus alternative programs in achieving long-term housing stability.
  • Fair Market Rent Calculations: Proposed by Rep. Mike Levin (D-Cali.) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.). Requires HUD PD&R to study alternative methods for calculating Fair Market Rents in rental markets with rapidly rising rents.
  • Community Development Block Grant Disaster Relief: Proposed by Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas). Requires the HUD Office of Inspector General to investigate the Department’s delay in releasing over $5 billion in Hurricane Harvey Disaster Community Block Grant funds.
  • Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing: Multiple co-sponsors: Increases funding for the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) program by $2 million, bringing the total funding level to $42 million.
  • Public Housing Oversight: Proposed by Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.) and Sean Duffy (R-Wisc.). Orders HUD to continue to work with the HUD Office of Inspector General (OIG) to incorporate findings and recommendations of the OIG investigation, “Final Evaluation Report – HUD’s Oversight of Alexander County Public Housing Authority” and “Alexander County Housing Authority’s improper usage of HUD subsidized Asset Management Project Funds,” for the purposes of protecting public housing residents and improving agency oversight and enforcement of public housing regulations.
  • Family Self-Sufficiency: Proposed by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.). Increases funding for FSS by $5 million, bringing the total funding level to $105 million.

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