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Congress Approves FY 2015 Omnibus Appropriations Bill

Published on December 15, 2014 by NCSHA Staff
Congress Approves FY 2015 Omnibus Appropriations Bill

On December 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 December 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 (September 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 February 27, 2015. Federally funded agencies have been operating under CRs since the fiscal year began on October 1.

The bill adheres to the $1.013 trillion discretionary spending limit for FY 2015 agreed to in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, the budget deal negotiated by House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) that set spending caps for FY 2014 and FY 2015. NCSHA’s analysis of the funding levels and policy provisions for HUD programs and USDA rural housing programs included in the omnibus follows.

HUD
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 (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 omnibus provides $900 million for HOME, $100 million less that its FY 2014 level. It also includes language removing for any HOME project to which funds were committed on or after August 23, 2013, the effective date of the 2013 HOME Rule, the statutory oversight provisions included in the FY 2012 and FY 2013 appropriations bills. Without this language, some HOME projects would have been subject to both the statutory provisions and the HOME Rule requirements. The bill does not include a $10 million set-aside within HOME for the Self-Help and Assisted Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP), as requested by the Administration, but continues to fund SHOP as a separate account.

Project-based Section 8 is funded at $9.7 billion, $187 million less than its FY 2014 level. The funding includes $210 million for performance-based contract administrators, $55 million less than provided in FY 2014.

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.

The bill provides $2.1 billion for homeless assistance grants, $30 million more than provided in FY 2014. The funding level includes at least $250 million for the Emergency Solutions Grants program (ESG) and $1.9 billion for the Continuum of Care (CoC) and Rural Housing Stability Assistance programs.

The bill includes $3.1 billion for the Community Development Fund, $34 million less than the FY 2014 level, including $3 billion for the CDBG program, $30 million less than the FY 2014 level.

The bill provides $420 million for the Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program, $36 million more than the FY 2014 level. This amount includes $70 million for service coordinators and existing congregate service grants. The bill does not provide funding for an elderly project rental assistance demonstration program.

The bill provides $135 million for the Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities program, $9 million more than the FY 2014 level. The bill does not provide new funds for the Project Rental Assistance (PRA) program, but allows the HUD Secretary to use project funds held in residual receipt accounts and unobligated balances to supplement the PRA program.

The bill includes $1.9 billion for the Public Housing Capital Fund, equal to the FY 2014 level, and $4.4 billion for the Public Housing Operating Fund, $40 million more than the FY 2014 level. The bill prohibits HUD from requiring a physical needs assessment in FY 2015.

The bill raises the cap on the number of public housing units that can participate in the Rental Assistance Demonstration program (RAD) from 60,000 to 185,000 and extends it through 2018. The bill also makes McKinney-Vento single-room occupancy (SRO) dwellings eligible to participate in RAD.

The bill provides $47 million for HUD’s Housing Counseling program and $50 million for the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling (NFMC) program, including up to $4 million for wind-down and closeout of program activities. The bill prohibits any funds provided by the bill or from FHA receipts from being used to implement the Homeowners Armed with Knowledge (HAWK) program.

The bill also includes $80 million for Choice Neighborhoods, $330 million for the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program (HOPWA), and $110 million for lead-based paint hazard reduction.

USDA
Compared to final FY 2014 levels, the omnibus includes flat funding for the Section 502 single-family subsidized direct loan and Section 502 unsubsidized guaranteed loan programs, a 2 percent decrease for the Section 521 rural rental assistance program and a 46 percent decrease for the Section 542 rural housing voucher program.

The bill includes $900 million for the Section 502 single-family subsidized direct loan program, $24 billion for the Section 502 unsubsidized guaranteed loan program, $150 million for the Section 538 multifamily loan guarantee program, and $28 million for the Section 515 rural rental housing loan program, all equal to their FY 2014 levels. The bill instructs the USDA Secretary to continue the current pilot program for packaging Section 502 single-family subsidized direct loans. According to the joint explanatory text, the bill also directs USDA to provide a report to the Appropriations Committees by March 1, 2015, describing in detail the proposal to charge lenders a Guaranteed Underwriting User Fee.

The bill provides $1.1 billion for the Section 521 rural rental assistance program, $21 million less than the FY 2014 level. It includes $7 million for the Section 542 rural housing voucher program, $5.6 million less than the FY 2014 level, and provides $17 million for the Multifamily Preservation and Revitalization (MPR) demonstration program.

View NCSHA’s budget chart, which shows how HUD and USDA program funding levels in the omnibus compare to FY 2014 appropriations, the President’s FY 2015 Budget proposal, and the FY 2015 Senate and House-proposed funding levels, for additional information.

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