President Biden Signs HUD Funding Bill into Law
On Dec. 29, President Biden signed into law a $1.7 trillion federal spending bill to fund the federal government through the end of fiscal year 2023. Congress had passed the FY 2023 Omnibus appropriations legislation with a House vote of 225 to 201 with one member voting present. The Senate voted 68 to 29 in favor of the legislation. The legislation includes roughly $858 billion in defense spending and $772.5 billion for nondefense discretionary programs, including funding for numerous housing-related programs at HUD, the Department of Agriculture, and other federal agencies.
We’ll highlight the key funding levels for HUD in 2023 and discuss the Public and Federally Assisted Housing Fire Safety Act provisions that were included in the spending package legislation.
The legislation allocates $58.2 billion for HUD. This is a $4.5 billion increase from FY22-enacted funding levels. However, nearly $3 billion of this increase is for special projects funded in the form of Economic Development Initiative (EDI) items resulting from congressionally directed spending (CDS) requests.
Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) Section 8. The legislation provides a total of $30.3 billion for TBRA, including $26.4 billion to renew previous contracts. This funding is likely sufficient for renewing existing TBRA contracts. And of the amount provided, $2.7 billion is designated as emergency funding for tenant-based rental assistance from a separate section of the legislation.
The law includes $50 million to expand rental assistance vouchers to an additional 12,000 households, including individuals and families experiencing or at risk of homelessness, such as survivors of domestic violence and veterans. The bill allocates $7.5 million to serve Native American veterans, which is $2.5 million more in funding compared to FY22.
Project-Based Rental Housing. The law provides $14.9 billion to renew Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) contracts. This is an increase of $967 million from FY22 funding levels. Of the amount provided, $969 million comes from an emergency supplemental for project-based rental assistance in a separate section of the bill.
Public housing. The legislation provides $8.5 billion for the public housing fund, including $5.1 billion for the public housing operating fund and $3.2 billion through the capital fund formula. The funding available for the public housing capital account is an $8 million decrease from the FY22 funding level. And funding for the public housing operating fund is an increase of $70 million from FY22-enacted funding. Also, the Family Self-Sufficiency program is funded at $125 million, a $16 million increase over FY22-enacted levels.
Other housing programs. The law provides $1.07 billion to the Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program, an increase of $42 million from FY22-enacted levels, and increases funding for the Section 811 Housing for People with Disabilities program to $360 million, which is $8 million more than was provided in FY22. The legislation also includes $20 million to provide legal aid assistance for eviction prevention.
Smoke Alarms in HUD Housing
The spending package also includes the Public and Federally Assisted Housing Fire Safety Act provisions. The requirement takes effect in two years and authorizes “such sums” as may be necessary to carry out its provisions. Under the law, owners and operators of federally assisted housing are required to install hardwired or tamper-resistant, battery-powered smoke alarms on every level of the unit, and in/near bedrooms. Programs impacted by the requirement include Public Housing, Tenant-Based Rental Assistance, Project-Based Rental Assistance, Section 202, Section 811, HOPWA, and USDA Section 514 and Section 516.
What to Expect in Future Funding Discussions
In 2022, the House- and Senate-proposed FY23 budgets were negotiated with little to no Republican input. To enact the final bill, appropriations leaders in the House and Senate had to come to a bipartisan agreement on funding levels. Since President Biden signed the federal spending bill into law, the members of the House of Representatives and Senate have returned to begin the 118th Congress. Democrats maintain control of the Senate and Republican have taken control of the House.
The disarray shown in the House with the election of Rep. Kevin McCarthy as the Speaker of the House may foreshadow a turbulent year in Congress. And the concessions Rep. McCarthy made to far-right lawmakers make it easier to decrease funding to federal programs and add amendments to appropriations bills that include barriers to accessing assistance.
For example, in securing his speakership, Rep. McCarthy made a concession agreeing to cap all discretionary spending at FY22 levels. This would decrease HUD funding by $8.1 billion. In addition, Speaker McCarthy committed to moving all 12 FY24 appropriations individually through regular order and allowing an open amendments process on each bill. This change would make it easier for members to add amendments to appropriations bills. Another agreement would bring back the “Holman rule,” a House rule that allows amendments to appropriations legislation that would reduce the salary of or fire specific federal employees, or cut a specific program.
Reminder: CO Alarm Requirement in Effect
HUD has issued reminders that, as of Dec. 27, 2022, per HUD Notice PIH 2022-01/Notice H 2022-01/Notice OLHCHH 2022-01, all HUD-assisted units with carbon monoxide sources must have carbon monoxide alarms or detectors installed. The requirement applies to units covered under Public Housing, Project Based Rental Assistance, Housing Choice Vouchers, Project-Based Vouchers, Section 202, and Section 811 with fire-fueled or fire-burning appliances or an attached garage.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, non-visible, toxic gas produced by incomplete combustion of fuel burned in stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, or furnaces, as well as in vehicles and small engines. CO can build up indoors, and the effects of CO exposure can vary from person to person depending on age, overall health, and the concentration and length of exposure. Exposure can cause permanent brain damage, life-threatening cardiac complications, fetal death or miscarriage, and death in a matter of minutes. People who are asleep or intoxicated can die from CO poisoning before experiencing any symptoms.
To help owners place devices, HUD has released a “decision tree.” This document is a guide for determining CO requirements based on sources of CO and location. It can be found at www.hud.gov/sites/dfiles/PIH/documents/IFC%20Decision%20Tree%20-%20HUD%20Terms.pdf. The document covers whether CO detection must be installed outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms or installed within the bedroom.