Congress Approves FY 2015 Omnibus Appropriations Bill

On Dec. 13, the Senate passed by a vote of 56 to 40 the FY 2015 omnibus appropriations bill, H.R. 83. The House approved the same bill on Dec. 11, 219 to 206. The President is expected to sign the bill soon.

The omnibus is a package of 11 FY 2015 spending bills, providing funding through the end of FY 2015 (Sept. 30, 2015) for federal agencies, including HUD and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The package also includes a short-term continuing resolution (CR) funding the Department of Homeland Security until Feb. 27, 2015. Federally funded agencies have been operating under CRs since the fiscal year began on Oct. 1.

The bill includes $35.6 billion for HUD. Factoring in a decrease in Federal Housing Administration (FHA) receipts, which the Appropriations Committees use to offset spending, the bill provides $90 million less total HUD program spending than in FY 2014.

Compared to final FY 2014 funding levels, the bill includes a 10 percent cut to the HOME Investment Partnerships program (HOME), a 1 percent decrease for project-based Section 8 contract renewals, a 1 percent increase for Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher renewals, a 2 percent increase for voucher administrative fees, a 1 percent increase for homeless assistance grants, a 1 percent cut to the Community Development Block Grant program (CDBG), and a 14 percent cut to housing counseling.

The bill includes $19.3 billion for the voucher program, $127 million more than the FY 2014 level. This amount includes $17.5 billion for voucher renewals, $120 million more than the FY 2014 level, and $1.5 billion for administrative fees, $30 million more than the FY 2014 level. It also includes $75 million for new HUD-VASH vouchers. The bill provides in a separate account $75 million for the family self-sufficiency (FSS) program for residents in public housing or voucher programs. According to the report accompanying the bill, called the joint explanatory text, the bill also allows project-based owners to participate in the FSS program, using their own funds. It also includes a pilot program to test the effectiveness of pairing the FSS program with family unification program (FUP) vouchers for homeless youth.