House Appropriations Subcommittee Approves FY 2017 THUD Bill

Published by Peter Lawrence on Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - 12:00am

After being in the unusual situation of acting after the Senate Appropriations Committee, the House Appropriations Transportation-HUD (THUD) Subcommittee May 18 approved its $58.2 billion fiscal year (FY) 2017 THUD spending bill by voice vote. The bill provides $889 million more than FY 2016 but $4.9 billion less than the Obama administration’s FY 2017 request.

Regarding housing, according to the committee release, the House FY 2017 THUD bill includes $38.7 billion of net appropriated funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This is $384 million (1 percent) more than the amount appropriated in FY 2016, but $952 million (2.4 percent) less than the FY 2017 request and $507 million (1.3 percent) less than the Senate FY 2017 THUD bill. Highlights of the bill follow.

Public and Assisted Rental Housing

Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA)

The bill provides $10.9 billion for Project-Based Rental Assistance, which is identical to the Senate bill, $281 million (2.6 percent) more than FY 2016 and $85 million (0.8 percent) more than the FY 2017 request. This funding level should be sufficient to renew all contracts, and the subcommittee declined the administration’s request to reform the medical deduction, which if implemented would have resulted in $85 million in savings. HUD will need to conduct procurement for contact administrators, but any budget adjustments resulted from this procurement likely would take effect in the FY 2018 budget request.

Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA)

Tenant-Based Rental Assistance is proposed to be funded at $20.2 billion, which is $560 million (2.9 percent) more than FY 2016, but $200 million (1.2 percent) less than the Senate bill, and $655 million less than the FY 2017 request. Of that amount, $18.3 billion is for Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher contract renewals, which is a $630 million (3.6 percent) increase over FY 2016, but $135 million (0.7 percent) less than the FY 2017 request and $43 million (0.2 percent) less than the Senate bill. It appears this level of funding would be sufficient to renew all vouchers in use. Unlike the Senate, the subcommittee did not propose $20 million to support more than 2,500 new incremental family unification vouchers to prevent youth from becoming after exiting foster care. Like the Senate, the subcommittee did not approve funding intended to complement a new Obama administration family homelessness program initiative. For the HUD-Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program, the bill provides $7 million, all of which is set aside for Native American veterans, which is equal to the FY 2017 request, but $50 million less than the Senate and $53 million less than FY 2016, both of which propose to continue to serve non-Native American veterans. The bill also provides $110 million for Tenant Protection Vouchers, a $20 million decrease from the FY 2016 enacted level, but equal to the request and the Senate bill.

Public Housing Capital and Operating Funds

The Public Housing Capital and Operating Funds would be provided the same funding as FY 2016 under the bill: it provides $1.9 billion for the Public Housing Capital Fund, which $35 million (1.9 percent) more than the request, but $25 million (1.3 percent) less than the Senate bill and $4.5 billion for the Public Housing Operating Fund, which is $69 million (1.5 percent) less than the request and $175 million (3.7 percent) less than the Senate bill.

Rental Assistance Demonstration

The FY 2015 CR-Omnibus bill increased the cap on the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program from 60,000 to 185,000 public housing units, enabling all pending applications as of December 2014 to go forward as well as a few others, and the administration later proposed to repeal the unit cap in the FY 2016 and FY 2017 requests. The administration also requested $50 million for incremental funding to enable RAD conversions where such incremental funding is needed for financial feasibility, including authorization to convert Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly. The bill neither eliminates the unit cap as requested by the administration, nor increases authorization from 185,000 units to 250,000 units, as provided in the Senate bill. It also does not provide $4 million in incremental funding and authorizes RAD conversions of Section 202 properties, as proposed by the Senate bill.

Moving To Work

The bill ignores the administration’s FY 2017 request to rescind the language authorized in the FY 2016 omnibus spending bill enacted last December, which significantly expanded the Moving To Work (MTW) public housing demonstration program. The FY 2016 legislation directed HUD to admit 100 new public housing agencies to the MTW program over the next seven years, which is a significant increase over the current 39 participating agencies. In previous budget requests, the administration proposed a more modest expansion of MTW to only 15 new agencies.

Community Planning and Development (CPD) Programs

The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program is proposed to be funded at $3 billion, equal to FY 2016 and the Senate bill, but a $200 million (7.1 percent) increase from the request. After last year’s virtual elimination, the House Appropriations Subcommittee FY 2017 bill provides $950 million for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME), equal to FY 2016 and the Senate bill, but $10 million more than the request, which set aside $10 million of HOME funds for the Self Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP). Both the House and Senate bill propose to provide $10 million for SHOP in a separate account. HOME program funding would remain 41 percent below nominal FY 2011 levels ($1.61 billion).

Homeless and Supportive Housing Programs

McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants are proposed to be funded at $2.49 billion, a $237 million (10.5 percent) increase over FY 2016 funding and $157 million (6.7 percent) more than the Senate bill, but $177 million (6.6 percent) less than the request. This amount includes a $2.01 billion set-aside for the continuum of care and rural housing stability assistance programs, and $310 million for Emergency Solutions Grants.

The bill provides $505 million for the Housing for the Elderly (Section 202) program, a $72 million (16.7 percent) increase over FY 2016 levels and equal to the request and the Senate bill. The Housing for Persons with Disabilities (Section 811) program is funded at $154 million, a $4 million (2.7 percent) increase from FY 2016 funding levels and again equal to the request. The budget would provide $335 million for the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program to provide housing and supportive services to persons living with HIV and AIDS, which is level with FY 2016, the request and the Senate bill.

Obama Administration

Opening Doors Initiative to End Family Homelessness

The administration proposed a new $11 billion mandatory spending program over 10 years to reach and maintain the goal of ending family homelessness by 2020, as outlined by its Opening Doors Initiative. As typical with mandatory funding requests, the bill did not authorize this request.

Choice Neighborhoods Initiative

The bill provides $100 million for the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, which is designed to comprehensively revitalize high-poverty public and assisted housing communities, which is $25 million (20 percent) less than FY 2016 and $100 million (50 percent) less than the request, but $2o million (25 percent) more than the Senate bill.

Upward Mobility Project & Local Housing Policy Grants

As with the Opening Doors Initiative, the bill does not authorize the upward mobility project or local housing policy grants.

Next Steps

With minor changes, the full House Appropriations Committee approved the THUD Subcommittee’s FY 2017 bill May 24. The full Senate passed the Senate Appropriations Committee-approved FY 2017 THUD bill without any major changes May 19. It is not clear when the full House will consider the FY 2017 THUD bill, but it is expected to be considered before the House recesses for the national conventions on July 15.

But even if the full House approves the subcommittee bill without any major changes, it appears likely that Congress will resort to passing another temporary stopgap funding bill, or continuing resolution, to fund the federal government from Oct. 1 until after the November election when it reconvenes after Labor Day.

The House has abandoned an attempt to pass a FY 2017 budget resolution because of a faction of House conservatives who opposed using the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 to set the overall FY 2017 discretionary budget at $1.07 trillion, from which the 12 annual spending bills are allocated funding. In light of the House’s difficulties in getting a budget resolution passed, there will likely be problems getting final versions of all 12 spending bills, including the THUD bill, passed by the entire House before Oct. 1, not to mention being approved by the president.

So, as is often the case in presidential election years, the November election will have a big impact on the course of the final FY 2017 THUD bill.