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From NLIHC: House Democrats Move to End Government Shutdown

The following brief comes from the National Low Income Housing Coalition. It contains a ton of useful information about the government shut down ahead of Democrats’ control of the House of Representatives, and it’s filled with insights about upcoming spending bills and how they relate to affordable housing.


House Democrats Move to End Government Shutdown

Parts of the federal government continue to be shut down, as lawmakers and President Trump continue to disagree on funding for a southern border wall. The shutdown has now run for nearly two weeks. House Democrats plan to vote on two legislative proposals to end the shutdown when they take control of the chamber tomorrow, January 3. The first vote will be on a spending package that includes six of the seven remaining FY19 spending bills, including those that fund affordable housing programs administered by HUD and USDA. House Democrats will then vote on a stopgap funding bill for the Department Homeland Security (DHS) that would last through February 8. The DHS spending bill has proven to be the most controversial since it includes funding for the border wall.

Assuming the bills pass the House, the Republican majority in the Senate will then have to decide if and how the Senate takes up the spending bills. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated he will decide to schedule a vote on the bills based on President Trump’s willingness to sign the legislation into law. So far, President Trump has not backed away from his demands for a significant increase in money to build a border wall. He will meet with congressional leaders later today in the hopes of reaching a deal.

The House spending package includes funding levels and policy proposals for affordable housing programs that are identical to those included in the Senate’s version of the FY19 Transportation and HUD (THUD) spending bill. Read NLIHC’s analysis of the Senate FY19 THUD bill and updated budget chart.

Like the Senate bill, the House spending package builds on the 10% increase in HUD funding that advocates and congressional champions secured in FY18 by providing $1.8 billion in new resources in FY19. Overall, the bill provides HUD programs with more than $12 billion above the president’s FY19 request.

Because the spending package would provide robust funding for affordable housing programs, we urge you to call your lawmakers to ask them to pass the bill as soon as possible. 

The House spending package fully funds all existing rental assistance contracts and includes additional resources to provide an estimated 7,600 new vouchers to veterans and youth aging out of the foster care system. The spending package also increases funding for public housing ($2.78 billion for capital repairs and $4.76 billion for operating costs), Homeless Assistance Grants ($2.6 billion), Family Self-Sufficiency ($80 million), and Healthy Homes & Lead Hazard Control ($260 million). The bill renews all contracts for Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities ($154 million) and provides enough funding for new construction under Section 202 Housing for the Elderly ($678 million). The spending package funds the HOME Investment Partnerships program ($1.36 billion) and Community Development Block Grants ($3.37 billion) at the robust 2018 levels, despite calls for elimination by the president.

Unfortunately, the bill does not include funding for a voucher-mobility demonstration that would have helped families with children move to areas of opportunity. The bill also includes a policy rider identical to the one added to the Senate bill that would prohibit people charged with certain crimes from receiving housing assistance. NLIHC and other organizations expressed concerns about how this provision would be implemented.

We have learned from HUD that while funding for project-based assistance is currently in place for January and continues to flow, funding for these programs becomes more uncertain if the shutdown lasts beyond this month. If that were to occur, HUD would likely enter short-term contracts or short-fund project owners. Short-term renewals and short funding is disruptive to administrative staff work and destabilizing for private owners and investors in PBRA properties. Additionally, the shutdown will make it that public housing agencies might not have enough funding to keep operations running, including providing housing or issuing vouchers to families on waiting lists. Such disruption is especially true for smaller agencies, which generally tend to serve primarily seniors and people with disabilities, as they may have fewer reserves they can tap into during the shutdown. PHAs also will be delayed in receiving funding related to the public housing capital fund to help address pressing capital needs, such as fixing boilers and repairing leaking roofs.

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