Key Housing and Community Development Provisions in the FY 2015 Senate Full Committee THUD Appropriations Bill

Published by Peter Lawrence on Friday, June 6, 2014 - 12:00am

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year (FY) 2015 bill Transportation-HUD (THUD) Appropriations bill on June 5, following Subcommittee approval on June 3. The bill includes $54.4 billion in discretionary spending – an increase of $3.6 billion above the FY 2014 enacted level, $3.8 billion more than President Obama’s FY 2015 budget request, and $2.4 billion greater than the House FY 2015 THUD bill.

For HUD, the bill provides a total of $45.8 billion in FY 2015, $369 million more the fiscal year 2014 enacted level, but $829 million below the FY 2015 request.Most program levels were at either a slight increase or level with FY 2014 funding, but a slight decrease from 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 $9.746 billion for Project-Based Rental Assistance, which is $171 million less than the FY 2014 funding level of $9.9 billion, but the same as the administration’s FY 2015 request and the House FY 2015 bill. The president’s budget requested $10.3 billion to fully fund PBRA in FY 2014. Like the House, the committee 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 according to the latest estimates from HUD, 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 $19.562 billion, $385 million or 2 percent more than FY 2014, but $483 million or 3.4 percent less than the request. Of that amount, $17.719 billion is for Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher contract renewals, which is a $353 million or 2 percent increase over FY 2014, $26 million more than the House bill, but a cut of $288 million or 1.6 percent from the administration’s request. It is unclear whether this level of funding will be sufficient to renew all vouchers in use, but it 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 and the House bill.

Public Housing Capital & Operating Funds

The bill provides $1.9 billion for the Public Housing Capital Fund, a $25 million or 1.3 percent increase from FY 2014, and $125 million more than the House bill, but $25 million less than the administration request. The Public Housing Operating Fund is funded at $4.475 billion, a $75 million increase about FY 2014, and $75 million more than the House bill, but a $125 million or 2.7 percent decrease from the administration’s request.

Choice Neighborhoods Initiative

The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative is proposed to be funded at $90 million, which is $65 million more than the House bill, the same as the FY 2014 enacted level, but $30 million or less than the FY 2015 request.

Rental Assistance Demonstration

Unlike the House bill, the Senate bill authorizes increasing the 60,000 unit cap on its Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program to 185,000 units, and furthermore, it provides $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 $3.02 billion, representing a $10 million or less than 1 percent decrease from FY 2014, but a $220 million or 7.7 percent increase from the FY 2015 request, and $20 million more than the House bill.

The HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) is proposed to be funded at $950 million, a $50 million or 5 percent cut from FY 2014 but level with the request, and $250 million more than the House bill. However,unlike the administration and the House, the bill does not set aside HOME funds for the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunities Program (SHOP). As in FY 2014, the bill maintains a separate account for SHOP and capacity building programs. It is worth noting that HOME program funding would remain 41 percent below FY 2011 levels ($1.61 billion).

Homeless and Supportive Housing Programs

McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants are proposed to be funded at $2.145 billion, $40 million more than FY 2014 and the House bill, but $261 million or 11 percent less than the request. This amount includes a $1.85 billion set aside for the continuum of care and rural housing stability assistance programs, and $250 million for Emergency Solutions Grants.

Like the House bill, 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, the same as the House bill, but a $9 million or 7.1 percent increase from FY 2014, and a $25 million cut from the request.

The bill would provide $330 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 $24 million more than the House bill, but level with FY 2014 and $2 million less than the request.

Next steps

It is unclear when the full Senate will consider the Senate Appropriations Committee-approved FY 2015 THUD spending bill, but the House is expected consider the House Appropriations Committee-approved FY 2015 THUD bill during the week of June 9.

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.