Federal Budget Update: What’s Happening with Housing?

By Jessica AcMoody

There is hopeful news to come out of Washington D.C. this month for affordable housing and community economic development. The Senate, ignoring the President’s proposal for deep funding cuts and policy changes to raise rents, voted in early August 92-6 to approve the FY19 Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) spending bill.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) reports that the bill provides housing and community development programs with more than $12 billion above the President’s request and more than $1 billion above the House bill, which the House Appropriations Committee approved in May.  

Most affordable housing and community economic development programs maintain funding, with some programs receiving increases. The House version of the bill includes modest increases from FY18, but amounts included are likely not enough to renew all existing Housing Choice Vouchers.

The Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) of 2018 raised 2018 & 2019 discretionary program funding caps, and both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees approved funding bills at levels consistent with the BBA.

Both the House and Senate provide $11.7 billion to renew all Project-Based Rental Assistance contracts for 12 months. That amount covers the rising cost of market rents and avoids displacing residents. The House and Senate bills also provide $678 million in overall funding for Section 202, with the Senate including slightly more for new construction. Both bills also fully fund Section 811 PRAC renewals at $154 million.

The NLIHC reports four amendments included in the Senate bill, including an amendment to “direct the US Department of Agriculture to report to congress on the agency’s strategy—and the tools and resources needed—to preserve affordable rental homes in rural America.” They also report an amendment to the Senate bill sponsored by Senator Peters that “requires HUD and the EPA to report on efforts related to the removal of lead-based paint and other hazardous materials.”

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding includes $3.3 billion in both the House and Senate bills, which is consistent with 2018 funding. The President has proposed moving the CDBG program to the Department of Commerce, and the future of that decision is uncertain.

The proposed budget for the HOME program, which included a 48% increase in 2018, was maintained in the Senate with funding set at $1.362 billion. The House proposal cuts the funding for HOME to $1.2 billion.

The outlook for the FY19 budget is uncertain. Currently, there are policy rider disagreements between the House and Senate, as well as a threat by President Trump to shut down the government if there is no funding included for the border wall. The general consensus is that congress will pass a Continuing Resolution to fund the government through the elections with the goal of passing a final budget by the end of December.

You can find more information on the proposed budgets, as well as specific proposed program funding on the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s budget chart.