House Appropriations Committee Approves FY 2015 HUD Funding Bill
On May 21, the House Appropriations Committee reported by a vote of 28 to 21 the FY 2015 Transportation-HUD (T-HUD) appropriations bill. The House bill has a funding level of $52.03 billion, $1.2 billion more than the FY 2014 enacted funding level and $7.8 billion less than the President’s FY 2015 Budget request. However, as noted during the markup by the Committee and Subcommittee leaders, the bill’s funding level is effectively $1.8 billion less than the FY 2014 enacted level due to a decrease in receipts available from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to offset spending in the bill.
During the markup, the Committee adopted amendments to increase funding for the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) by $1 million and to direct HUD to evaluate and report on the effect of Housing Choice Voucher (voucher) portability on costs to certain public housing authorities (PHAs). It also accepted a manager’s amendment that includes provisions to increase funding for HUD’s housing counseling program by $2 million to $47 million and to increase funding for the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program (HOPWA) by $2.9 million to $305.9 million. The Committee rejected amendments to increase funding for the HOME and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) programs. Other than the additional funding for housing counseling, HOPWA, and USICH, the funding levels for HUD programs remain unchanged from the May 7 Subcommittee-reported bill, which NCSHA describes in this blog post.
In his opening statement, Subcommittee Chairman Tom Latham (R-IA) reiterated points he made during the Subcommittee markup, stating that the bill provides sufficient funds to keep all families currently receiving housing assistance under the umbrella of the various HUD programs. Subcommittee Ranking Member Ed Pastor (D-AZ) said the bill freezes many programs at last year’s funding level and cuts a number of programs, including the HOME and Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction programs. He said he is hopeful they will be able to address some of these shortfalls as the bill moves through the process.
In his opening statement, Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) stated, “This bill focuses funding on the infrastructure that grows the American economy and on the housing options that protect our most vulnerable citizens.” As she did in the Subcommittee markup, Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) stated she is concerned about the bill’s proposed cuts to the HOME program and the Public Housing Capital Fund, which she said are vital to the rehabilitation and modernization of the country’s affordable housing stock. She reiterated that the proposed $700 million funding level for HOME is the lowest in the program’s history.
Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) offered an amendment on behalf of himself and Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN) to increase funding for HOME by $900 million to $1.6 billion. Chairman Latham said he had to oppose the amendment because it did not have an offset and therefore would cause the bill to exceed its spending cap. The amendment was not adopted.
Schiff also offered an amendment to direct HUD to use an alternate formula to reimburse housing authorities monthly for the cost of administering ported vouchers. Latham opposed the amendment and said the provision should be left to the authorizers. Latham offered to work with Schiff on the issue and Schiff withdrew the amendment. Later in the markup, the Committee adopted an amendment worked out by Latham and Schiff to include repot language requiring HUD to report on the effect of voucher portability on costs to certain public housing authorities (PHAs).
Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) offered an amendment to increase funding for CDBG by $270 million to $3.27 billion. Latham commented that they all know how important the program is and said they tried to be supportive of the program in the bill. He opposed the amendment because there was no offset offered. The amendment was rejected on a recorded vote of 22 to 28.
Representative Mike Quigley (D-IL) offered and then withdrew an amendment to increase from 60,000 to 250,000 the statutory cap on the number of public housing units that can be converted under the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD). Latham said the provision should be left to the authorizers and stated the Committee still has a lot of outstanding questions about RAD’s long-term impact on the project-based Section 8 account. Latham added that the Committee received a letter from House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-CA) asking the Committee to not increase the cap.
The Committee adopted Representative David Price’s (D-NC) amendment to transfer $1 million from HUD’s information technology account to USICH after Latham modified the amendment by reinstating USICH’s sunset date, which is October 1, 2016. Price’s amendment would have authorized USICH indefinitely. Latham also agreed to work with Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) to find an offset to restore funding for the lead hazard reduction program after she agreed to withdraw her amendment to increase the program’s funding level.
As reported in NCSHA’s May 7 post, the bill would provide the following FY 2015 funding levels:
- $700 million for the HOME program, $300 million less than the FY 2014 level and $250 million less than the President’s FY 2015 Budget request.
- $9.7 billion for project-based Section 8, $171 million less than the FY 2014 level and equal to the President’s request.
- $17.7 billion for voucher renewals, $328 million more than the FY 2014 level and $313 million less than the President’s request.
- $3 billion for CDBG, $30 million less than the FY 2014 level and $200 million more than the President’s request.
- $2.1 billion for homeless assistance grants, equal to the FY 2014 enacted level and $301 million less than the President’s request.
Prior to the markup, the Subcommittee released report language to accompany the bill. The report provides an explanation of provisions in the bill.
The report states that the Committee acknowledges the bill’s funding level for project-based Section 8 would provide less than 12 months of funding for some contracts. It states the funding level is based on the Administration’s proposal to shift to a calendar year funding cycle for payments on renewal contracts.
In the report’s section on Community Planning and Development programs, which includes HOME and CDBG, the Committee acknowledges that “at reduced funding levels communities will need to be innovative in finding ways to do more with less by leveraging State, local, and private sector partnerships.”
The report also states, “The Committee concurs with decisions by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that HUD’s contracts for performance-based contract administrator (PBCA) services are procurement contracts. The recommendation rejects the request to give HUD authority to administer PBCA funds as grants or cooperative agreements and directs HUD to follow the law and GAO by soliciting and awarding procurement contracts under full and open competition and without geographic limitations. The Committee further directs HUD to carry out these procurement processes in a manner that is compliant with requirements under the Federal Acquisition Regulation and the Competition in Contracting Act.”
The report says the Committee’s bill reflects the Administration’s proposal to reorganize the Self-help and Assisted Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP) as a set-aside within the HOME program. The President’s Budget requests that up to $10 million within the HOME account be set-aside for SHOP.
The schedule for consideration of the bill by the House has not been announced. The Senate T-HUD Subcommittee has not released its FY 2015 funding bill, but is expected to markup the bill in early June.