Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Difficult THUD appropriations bill reported out of subcommittee


By Rebekah King, National Housing Conference

On April 29, the House Appropriations Transportation, Housing and Urban Development subcommittee held its mark-up hearing on the FY 2016 THUD appropriations bill. Given sequestration and the Budget Control Act (BCA) caps, we expected the bill to be difficult for HUD programs, and it met those expectations with unfortunate and damaging cuts and provisions. The few comments shared at this morning’s hearing by Ranking Members Price (D-NC) and Lowey (D-NY) highlighted the need for a bipartisan budget agreement to lift the BCA. Otherwise, the BCA caps will necessitate 302(b) allocation levels that are inadequate and insufficient to sustain important federal investments in housing.

Subcommittee Chair Diaz-Balart (R-FL) stated that the funding levels were sufficient to continue HUD’s housing programs and Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) made a similar comment, that the bill provides ample support for affordable housing and counseling programs. These comments are concerning given that the proposed bill does not fully fund renewals for Section 8 project based rental assistance, deeply underfunds public housing capital needs, proposes a major cut to the HOME program and would direct all funding for the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) into the HOME program. All of these potential outcomes would be very damaging for affordable housing.

Additionally, the bill would do nothing to address the large unmet need for affordable housing, as illustrated by the three out of four families who are eligible for federal housing assistance but do not receive it. It would not restore any vouchers lost due to sequestration in 2013; it does not provide any new housing for the elderly (Section 202) or people with disabilities (Section 811).

The subcommittee favorably reported the bill to the full committee with no objections or additional amendments.

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