The House Appropriations on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Subcommittee passed its 2014 funding bill on the morning of June 20th.
As currently drafted, the bill reduces overall 2014 funding for HUD programs by 35% compared to 2013 pre-sequestration levels, and by 31% post-sequestration. The bill includes unprecedented and devastating cuts to several HUD programs.
The Senate THUD subcommittee is expected to mark up its own bill on June 25.
Some of the hardest hit programs in the House bill include:
- Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) is funded at $1.6 billion, a 50% cut from 2013 pre-sequestration levels. This is the lowest level since it was created in 1975. CDBG is used to rehab and construct housing, purchase lands and buildings, down payment assistance for homeowners, and programs that address transportation, homelessness, domestic violence, health care, child care, and building capacity for nonprofits.
- Choice Neighborhoods Initiative is not funded at all. In fact, the 2013 funding of $120 million was rescinded. This program is used to revitalize the nation's seriously distressed public housing stock, private Section 8 housing properties, and surrounding impoverished neighborhoods.
- Public Housing Capital Fund is funded at $1.5 billion, a 20% cut from the 2013 pre-sequestration funding levels. The capital fund can be used for modernization, demolition, and replacement housing. This cut, coupled with the complete lack of funding for the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, means that the serious backlog of public housing capital improvements will only get worse.
- HOME Investment Partnership Program is funded at $700 million, a 30% cut from 2013 pre-sequestration levels. This is the lowest level since the program began in 1992. HOME is used by states and localities to provide loans or grants for buying, rehabbing, building, removing, and demolishing housing. It is also used for site improvements, buying land, home loans, home guarantees, down payment assistance, security deposit assistance, and rental assistance.
- Housing for Persons with Disabilities (Section 811) at $126 million, a 23% cut from 2013 pre-sequestration levels. Section 811 provides integrated supportive housing to non-elderly people with disabilities with extremely low and very low incomes.
- Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction at $50 million, a 58% cut from 2013 pre-sequestration levels. This program is focused on abatement, interim control, clearance, and risk assessment in homes with lead, particularly for households with young children who are prone to the side effects of lead exposure.
- Housing Opportunity for People with AIDS (HOPWA) at $300 million, a 10% cut from 2013 pre-sequestration levels. HOPWA provides housing assistance and related support services for people with HIV/AIDS and their families.
Other programs will keep the same pre-sequestration 2013 funding, or will be less drastically decreased, if this bill is enacted:
- Tenant Based Rental Assistance contract renewals is funded at $17 billion, which is a 2% decrease from 2013 pre-sequestration levels, but a 4% increase from post-sequestration levels. This should ensure rental assistance for all vouchers in use at the beginning of the 2014 fiscal year. While this is a great start, there is still a lack of funding to address administrative needs of those who administer the Section 8 program, including inspections and certifications.
- Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing is funded at $75 million, which is less than a 1% increase from 2013 post-sequestration levels. This will ensure that $10,000 more homeless veterans are placed in supportive and affordable housing.
- Public Housing Operating Fund is funded at $4.2 billion, which is a 5% increase from 2013 post-sequestration levels. The Public Housing Operating Fund is used for routine maintenance, utilities, management, supportive services, security, and insurance. Unfortunately, this modest funding increase is like pocket-change compared to the levels actually needed to address the serious backlog of repair and maintenance needs facing the nation's public housing stock
How do the THUD subcommittee members feel about these cuts?
Housing advocates and providers are not the only ones unhappy with this bill. Several THUD subcommittee members voiced their disappointment with this year's appropriations process, citing key HUD programs.
"We received an impossible allocation and the bill does not properly address particular infrastructure and housing needs," said Ranking Member Ed Pastor (D-AZ). "I am hopeful we can achieve a more realistic allocation in this appropriations process."
Rep. Lowey (D-NY) called this an "unacceptable low allocation" which "risks the health of countless children by exposing them to lead, mold, and other contaminations...and ensures demand for affordable housing continues to greatly exceed the supply."
Rep. Quigley (D-IL) believes that cuts to Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS "defies logic" since those with HIV/AIDS without affordable housing and support services are more likely be off their medications and need more care. This costs our government more money and puts more people at risk. Rep. Quigley praises the efforts to keep families in public housing, but goes on to say, "what about those in dire financial situations that will be forced to seek public housing this year? Sadly we are turning our backs on them, even when we are funding defense programs that the Pentagon does not even want."
The full House Appropriations committee is expected to take up this bill on June 26th.
The Senate THUD Appropriations subcommittee scheduled its mark-up for Tuesday, June 25th, and the full committee mark-up will follow two days after on June 27th. The Senate will use the Budget Control Act threshold of $1.058 trillion in discretionary spending, which will mean more funding for HUD programs. It is diverging from the House's lower threshold under the assumption that sequestration will be canceled or replaced with alternative deficit reduction measures.
There is still time to reconcile the House and Senate THUD funding allocations to more realistically address the serious housing shortage facing our nation. It is important that Senators Franken and Klobuchar hear from housing advocates, providers, developers, and tenants like you to get first-hand accounts of the effects of historically low funding.
MHP would also like to hear your stories of how budget cuts are affecting you as tenants, developers, and housing providers. These stories are instrumental in demonstrating the case to Congress that low HUD funding levels impact thousands of low-income families, and create barriers to safe, affordable housing.