House Committee Approves FY 2017 HUD Funding Bill, Senate Passes Its Version
The House Appropriations Committee recently approved its Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) funding bill by voice vote. The bill would fully fund project-based rental assistance contracts and funds the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) at its FY 2016 level of $950 million. Overall, the bill provides $58.19 billion in new spending on THUD programs, $889 million above FY 2016 and slightly higher than the Senate-passed THUD bill, which provides total funding of $57.7 billion. Highlights from the bill include:
- $10.9 billion to renew all project-based rental assistance contracts, equal to the Senate FY 2017 bill, $300 million more than the FY 2016 funding level, and $85 million more than the Administration’s FY 2017 request. The bill also includes $235 million for performance-based contract administrators’ administrative fees.
- $20.19 billion for the Housing Choice Voucher program, representing $560 million more than last year but $243 million less than the Senate version and $475 million less than the Administration’s FY 2017 request. House appropriators maintain that this amount is sufficient to renew all existing vouchers.
- $1.65 billion for administrative fees to cover public housing authorities’ costs of running the voucher program, flat funding these fees at FY 2016 levels, which is $427 million less than the Administration’s request.
- $2.49 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants, $157 million more than the Senate-passed FY 2017 THUD bill, $237 million more than in FY 2016, and $177 million less than the Administration’s request.
- $130 million for the Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes grants, a $20 million increase over FY 2016 and the Administration’s request.
While the House has not yet voted on this bill, the Senate has voted 89 to 8 in favor of its version of the THUD funding bill, H.R. 2577. Despite an overall allocation that’s $827 million below last year’s funding level, the Senate THUD bill provides nearly $1.5 billion more for HUD’s affordable housing and community development programs than Congress appropriated for them in FY 2016. The bill provides $950 million for the HOME program, the same funding level as last year, and fully funds rental assistance accounts.
Senators offered 161 amendments to the joint package during floor consideration, although only a handful were related to HUD programs, and none proposed modifications to the Committee-approved HUD program funding levels. Senators Bill Nelson (R-FL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) both introduced amendments regarding physical inspections of HUD-assisted properties. Senator Nelson’s Amendment 4011 would require HUD to take enforcement action on HUD-assisted properties that receive insufficient Uniform Physical Condition Standards scores. Senator Rubio’s Amendment 3918 would shorten the time given to a property owner to respond to a violation of a contract as well as the time given to the Secretary to develop an enforcement plan; a second amendment sponsored by Senator Rubio (Amendment 3921) would require HUD to prepare a report analyzing the effectiveness of Real Estate Assessment Center physical inspections.
Amendment 3905, introduced by Senator Dean Heller (R-NV), would prohibit the use of funds to provide housing assistance benefits to individuals convicted of certain criminal offenses, including murder, aggravated sexual assault, and child pornography.
Amendment 3917, introduced by Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), would prohibit the use of funds for the Continuum of Care homeless assistance program unless HUD allows the program to be used for “zero-tolerance” recovery housing. HUD currently allows Continuum of Care funding to be used for recovery housing, though this generally isn’t considered to be a best practice by homeless assistance providers.
Amendment 3921, introduced by Senator Al Franken (D-MN), would require the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness to submit a report on improving health and housing outcomes for chronically homeless individuals, individuals with behavioral health conditions, and children.