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2019 Bill Largely Sustains 2018 HUD Funding Gains

The 2019 government funding bill that President Trump signed into law today sustains most of the substantial funding increases of 2018 for Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs, and it includes funding to further expand the number of new housing vouchers and other rental assistance. Building on the strong 2018 funding, Congress again rejected the President’s proposed cuts to rental assistance programs as well as harmful proposed policy changes, such as rent increases and work requirements for those who receive assistance.

Overall, the bill provides $53.8 billion for HUD programs, a $1 billion (nearly 2 percent) increase over the 2018 funding level. It provides enough funding, $20.3 billion, to renew all housing vouchers that low-income families are now using. The bill also creates an innovative new mobility demonstration that will enable housing agencies to provide robust support for low-income families with children seeking to use their vouchers to move to neighborhoods with quality schools and other opportunities. In addition, it funds about 19,000 new vouchers for low-income people with disabilities, homeless veterans, and families with children to enable them to afford a decent, stable place to live. (CBPP will release a paper early next week that describes the voucher funding provisions in more detail.)

Congress also increased funds for public housing. Capital funds, which agencies use to update and maintain their housing stock, received a modest boost of $25 million over the 2018 funding level. However, there remains a capital backlog of over $26 billion throughout the public housing portfolio. The bill raised funding for the Public Housing Operating Fund, which provides funds to housing agencies for ongoing operational and utility costs, by $103 million.

Other HUD rental assistance programs also received funding that will let them serve as many families in 2019 as they did in 2018:

  • The Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance program received a $232 million increase over its 2018 level, which is enough to fully renew assistance for the 1.2 million families that the program now serves. The increase is necessary to renew aid because of rising rental costs in the private market. Adequately funding this program, including rental increases consistent with owners’ contracts and market trends, is important to maintain much-needed affordable housing in communities across the country.
  • Funding for the Section 202 program, which serves seniors, received the same $678 million in 2019 that it did in 2018, which is enough to renew existing aid and modestly expand the number of assisted senior households.
  • The Section 811 program, which serves non-elderly people with disabilities, received a funding decrease, but the amount provided is likely enough to renew current aid and expand the program’s reach to several thousand additional households.
  • Homeless assistance grants, which help communities implement effective strategies to help people quickly exit homelessness and move to stable housing, rose by $123 million, to $2.6 billion.

The bill also includes funding for flexible formula grants that communities use to rehabilitate and develop affordable housing. The Community Development Block Grant — which supports a wide range of community development and support activities — received $3.3 billion, the same as in 2018. Funding for the HOME program, which communities use largely to finance housing development, fell by about 9 percent to $1.25 billion.

Despite adequate funding to maintain the current number of low-income families receiving rental assistance, HUD program funding remains well below the need for housing assistance, with only 1 in 4 households eligible for assistance receiving it. And, in inflation-adjusted terms, HUD’s programs received less funding overall in 2019 than they did in 2010, largely due to rigid annual caps on total non-defense discretionary funding that policymakers enacted as part of the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA).

Without another budget deal to replace the bipartisan deal that covered 2018 and 2019, the budget caps for 2020 and 2021 will revert to the austere funding levels that the BCA requires. To sustain existing rent aid for seniors, families with children, and others, as well as to expand assistance to more of the millions of vulnerable households that struggle to pay the rent and make ends meet, policymakers must again raise the budget caps.

2019 Housing Program Allocations, Proposed and Enacted
(Figures in Millions)
  2018 Trump 2019 House 2019 Senate 2019 Enacted 2019
Housing Vouchers $22,015 $20,550 $22,476 $22,781 $22,598
Renewals $19,600 $18,749 $20,107 $20,520 $20,313
Admin. fees $1,760 $1,550 $1,800 $1,956 $1,886
New VASH, FUP, NED* $445 $0 $310 $94 $165
Mobility Demonstration $0 $0 $50 $0 $25
Section 8 Project-Based $11,515 $11,147 $11,747 $11,747 $11,747
Public Housing Capital Fund $2,750 $0 $2,750 $2,775 $2,775
Public Housing Operating Fund $4,550 $3,279 $4,550 $4,756 $4,653
Homeless Assistance $2,513 $2,383 $2,571 $2,612 $2,636
Section 202 Housing for Elderly $678 $601 $678 $678 $678
Section 811 Housing for People with Disabilities $230 $140 $154 $154 $184
Housing Opportunities for People with HIV/AIDS $375 $330 $393 $375 $393
HOME Block Grants $1,362 $0 $1,200 $1,362 $1,250
Native American and Hawaiian Housing Block Grants $657 $600 $655 $657 $657
Community Development Block Grants $3,300 $0 $3,300 $3,300 $3,300
HUD Program Total (gross) $52,749 $41,423 $53,240 $54,049 $53,774

Note: VASH = Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing. FUP = Family Unification Program. NED = “mainstream” vouchers for non-elderly people with disabilities.

*These figures are estimates based on most recently available data.

Sources: Office of Management and Budget and Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019.