Rural Housing and Department of Housing and Urban Development Programs Face Cuts in Senate, House Appropriations Bills
Last week, the Senate went into a week-long recess without passing a final bill to fund the Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD bill). Since the Senate will finish consideration of the legislation next week, IACED urges members to reach out to Senator Lugar and Senator Coats about the importance of the community development programs slated for deep cuts in the legislation.
The Senate T-HUD bill, S. 1596, would cut HUD funding by 10 percent below current funding levels. On paper, the funding levels look more optimistic that House-passed T-HUD legislation for FY2012, but a closer look reveals that the Senate increased funding levels by rescinding HUD funds from reserve accounts frequently used by the department to make up gaps between funding levels and actual costs. The Senate legislation does not include enough funding for the Housing Certificate Fund, Project Based Rental Assistance and Tenant Based Rental Assistance to renew all of their contracts. HUD projects that 100,000 families will have trouble renewing their vouchers in 2012 from the Tenant Based Rental cuts alone.
Further, S. 1596 cuts the Public Housing Capital and Operating Funds by 8 percent and 20 percent respectively from current levels. The Capital Fund figure represents a funding level that is 25 percent below what HUD estimates it will need to cover public housing units. The Senate bill cuts Community Development Block Grant funds by 15 percent and both the House and Senate bills would drastically reduce funding for the HOME Investment Partnership Program (25 percent cut in the House and 33 percent cut in the Senate). Lastly, neither the House nor the Senate includes the increased funding required to properly implement program changes as a result of the HEARTH legislation.
Overall, these cuts come at a particularly bad time as unemployment and poverty rates remain high and average income levels, especially among families receiving assistance, have decreased. While there are many problematic provisions, it is worth mentioning that the Senate bill does include some bright spots, such as $75 million in increased funding for Veterans Affairs Supported Housing vouchers and maintained funding for the Resident Opportunity Supportive Services program, a program that would be eliminated under the House legislation.
The T-HUD bill will be taken up next week once more with final passage scheduled for November 1 or 2nd along with the Agriculture, Rural Housing, and Food and Drug Administration bill, H.R. 2111, and the Commerce, Justice, and Science Bill, H.R. 2596 in what is called a “minibus” package.
Many rural housing programs also face deep reductions in FY2012 budgets. The House passed legislation to fund the 502 Single-Family Subsidized Direct Program at $845.6 million, $276 million or 25 percent below current funding levels. The Senate increased the figure for 502 Direct to $900 million, but that is still 2$22 million or 20 percent below FY2011 levels. Both the House and the Senate maintained FY2011 funding of $24 billion for the Section 502 Unsubsidized Guaranteed Loan Program.
Additionally, Senator Coburn (R-Okl.) introduced an amendment to the minibus that would cut $1 billion, or 40 percent, from community development programs across the board. The National Rural Housing Coalition is holding an open conference call tomorrow to help mobilize rural housing advocates in opposition to this amendment.
The information for the call is below: Tuesday, October 25th at 4:00pm Eastern Time. Participant’s number: 888-577-7248, Participant’s code: 2127929
Contact information for Senator Coats:
P: (202) 224-5623
F: (202) 228-1820
Contact information for Senator Lugar:
P: (202) 224-4814
F: (202) 228-0360