Key Housing and Community Development Provisions in the FY 2015 House THUD Appropriations Subcommittee Bill

Published by Peter Lawrence on Wednesday, May 7, 2014 - 12:00am

The House Transportation-HUD (THUD) Appropriations Subcommittee today approved its fiscal year (FY) 2015 bill. The bill includes $52.09 billion in discretionary spending – an increase of $1.2 billion above the FY 2014 enacted level but a decrease of $7.8 billion below President Obama’s FY 2015 budget request.

The major challenge the subcommittee faced was the $4.3 billion difference between the administration’s estimate of Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Ginnie Mae receipts in FY 2015 compared the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate, which help offset the cost of HUD programs. Because the subcommittee uses the lower CBO estimate, the program funding levels within the bill are $1.8 billion below the FY 2014 enacted levels.

For HUD, the bill provides a total of $40.3 billion in FY 2015, a cut of $769 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $2 billion below the FY 2015 request.A summary of how several key housing and community development programs fare in the FY 2015 THUD bill follows.

Public and Assisted Rental Housing

Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA)

The House THUD FY 2015 bill requests $9.7 billion for Project-Based Rental Assistance, which is about $200 million less than the FY 2014 funding level of $9.9 billion, but the same as the administration’s FY 2015 request. The president’s budget requested $10.3 billion to fully fund PBRA in FY 2014. It appears that the subcommittee agreed with the administration to shift to a calendar year funding cycle for the PBRA program, as it provides for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance. This shift would make renewal funding needs more predictable, but it would also mean that contracts expiring in the course of FY 2015 will not receive a full 12 months’ of renewal funding, and that Congress would need to increase renewal funding by about $1.6 billion to catch up.

Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA)

Tenant-Based Rental Assistance is proposed to be funded at $19.357 billion, $179 million or just under 1 percent more than FY 2014, but $688 million or 3.4 percent less than the request. Of that amount, $17.693 billion is for Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher contract renewals, which is a $328 million or 1.9 percent increase over FY 2014, but a cut of $313 million or 1.7 percent from the administration’s request. It is unlikely this level of funding would be sufficient to renew all vouchers in use, and clearly isn’t sufficient to restore funding for the tens of thousands of vouchers lost because of sequestration. The bill also provides $75 million for the HUD-Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program and $130 million for Tenant Protection Vouchers, level with FY 2014.

Public Housing Capital & Operating Funds

The bill provides $1.775 billion for the Public Housing Capital Fund, a $150 million or 5.3 percent decrease from the administration request and $100 million or 7.8 percent cut from FY 2014. The Public Housing Operating Fund is level funded at $4.4 billion, a $200 million or 4.3 percent decrease from the administration’s request.

Choice Neighborhoods Initiative

The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative is proposed to be funded at $25 million, which is $65 million less than the FY 2014 enacted level, and $95 million less than the request.

Rental Assistance Demonstration

The bill doesn’t authorize removing the 60,000 unit cap on its Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program nor does it provide $10 million for incremental funding to enable RAD conversions where such incremental funding is needed for financial feasibility, as the administration requests.

Community Planning and Development (CPD) Programs

The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)program is proposed to be funded at $3 billion, representing a $30 million or 1 percent decrease from FY 2014, but a $200 million or 7.1 percent increase from the request.

The HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) is proposed to be funded at $700 million, with $10 million set-aside from this amount for the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunities Program (SHOP), a $300 million or 30 percent cut from FY 2014 and a $250 million decrease from the request. HOME program funding would be 57 percent below its non-inflation adjusted FY 2011 level ($1.61 billion).

Homeless and Supportive Housing Programs

McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grantsare proposed to be funded at $2.105 billion, level with FY 2014 funding, but $301 million or 12.5 percent less than the request. This amount includes a $1.8 billion set aside for the continuum of care and rural housing stability assistance programs, and $200 million for Emergency Solutions Grants.

The proposal provides $420 million for the Housing for the Elderly (Section 202)program, a $36.5 million or 9.5 percent increase over FY 2014 levels, but a $20 million decrease from the request.

The Housing for Persons with Disabilities (Section 811)program is funded at $135 million, a $9 million or 7.1 percent increase from FY 2014, but a $25 million cut from the request.

The bill would provide $303 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 $27 million or 8.2 percent less than FY 2014 and $29 million less than the request.

Next steps

At the subcommittee meeting, House THUD Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Tom Latham, R-Iowa, announced that he expects the full House Appropriations Committee to consider the FY 2015 THUD bill during the week of May 19, after which the full House would be expected to consider the bill in mid-June to the end of July.

The Senate THUD Appropriations Subcommittee has not yet announced when it will consider the companion FY 2015 bill, but the full Senate Appropriations Committee has announced it will begin to consider FY 2015 spending bills on May 22.

Both the House and Senate are seriously attempting to finish all 12 of the FY 2015 spending bills, including the THUD bill, before the start of FY 2015 on October 1. The overall FY 2015 discretionary budget providing funding for all 12 bills is set at $1.014 billion, which has helped advance the consideration of the spending bills. But it may be difficult reconciling the differences between how the House Appropriations Committee splits that amount among the 12 subcommittees compared to how the Senate Appropriations Committee will. Also, Congress often has difficulty meeting the October 1 deadline during election years.