Federal Housing Spending Bill Moves to Senate, Rejects Rent Policy Changes
The Senate Appropriations Committee voted on June 7 to approve draft legislation to largely boost or maintain spending on housing programs. A similar bill was approved last month by the House appropriations panel. The Senate’s $71.4 billion measure increases spending on programs by more than $1 billion over 2018 levels. The bill now heads to the Senate floor.
The bill provides HUD programs with more than $12 billion above the president’s FY19 request and more than $1 billion above the House bill. In addition, the Senate bill 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 Senate bill also increases funding for public housing ($2.78 billion for capital repairs and $4.76 billion for operating), Homeless Assistance Grants ($2.6 billion), Family Self-Sufficiency ($80 million), Healthy Homes & Lead Hazard Control ($260 million), and the Office of Policy Development and Research ($100 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 Senate funds the HOME Investment Partnerships program ($1.36 billion) and the Community Development Block Grants ($3.37 billion) at the robust 2018 levels, despite calls for elimination by the president. The Choice Neighborhoods program, however, receives funding that’s reduced by $50 million.
The Trump administration had proposed giving the HUD secretary the authority to: increase a tenant’s rent contributions from the current standard of 30 percent of his or her adjusted income to 35 percent of his or her gross income; eliminate income deductions for childcare and medical expenses; increase the minimum monthly rent for tenants living in severe poverty to $150; and allow housing providers to impose rigid work requirements.
As with the House version, the Senate bill rejects the rent policy changes proposed by the Trump administration that would have given HUD the authority to increase the financial burden on current and future tenants of HUD-assisted housing.