BEYOND THE NUMBERS
The Senate Appropriations Committee recently approved a bill providing $54 billion for Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs in fiscal year 2019, $1.3 billion (2.5 percent) above the 2018 level. Like the bill that the House Appropriations Committee approved on May 23, it rejects the deep cuts and omits the harmful rent increases in the President's budget. Overall, the Senate bill provides $855 million more for HUD programs than the House bill, a considerable improvement (see table).
The Senate bill improves markedly on the House bill in several areas:
- The Senate bill has sufficient funding to renew all Housing Choice Vouchers and other HUD-administered rental assistance now helping seniors, families with children, and others to pay the rent and make ends meet. In contrast, the House bill would fail to renew nearly 50,000 vouchers currently in use. The Senate bill also would raise funding to cover housing agencies' voucher administrative costs by $197 million over the 2018 level (and $157 million over the House bill).
- The Senate bill includes a $231 million (3.2 percent) increase for public housing operations and capital repairs over the 2018 (and House bill) level.
- It also includes $2.6 billion for homeless assistance grants, a $99 million increase over 2018 (and $41 million over the House bill). This includes $80 million to help homeless youth and $50 million to aid survivors of domestic violence.
The Senate bill also would provide $94 million for 5,000 new vouchers for homeless veterans, 4,000 new vouchers for people with disabilities, and 2,000 new vouchers to help at-risk youth who have exited foster care. To its credit, the House bill includes about $226 million more for new vouchers than the Senate bill, but this bright spot is overshadowed by the House's bill's more than $400 million shortfall in renewal funding for existing vouchers.
However, the House bill provided $50 million for an innovative mobility demonstration to help more children in families with vouchers grow up in neighborhoods with quality schools and other opportunities. That can significantly improve children's chances of succeeding in school and as adults, research shows. Senators Todd Young and Chris Van Hollen have introduced similar legislation in the Senate, but the Senate Appropriations Committee didn't include the demonstration in its HUD funding bill. This was a missed opportunity that Congress can correct when it finalizes HUD funding legislation later this year.
House and Senate leaders seem intent on bringing their respective HUD funding bills before their full chambers for votes in the coming weeks. If both chambers approve the bills, Congress might try to finalize the HUD budget before the fiscal year begins on October 1. More likely, however, Congress will finalize legislation to fund HUD (and most federal agencies) after the November election.
|Proposed 2019 Funding for Major HUD Programs (Figures in millions)|
|2018||Trump 2019||House 2019||Senate 2019|
|Housing Choice Vouchers, total||$22,015||$20,550||$22,477||$22,781|
|Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance||$11,515||$11,147||$11,747||$11,747|
|Housing for the Elderly||$678||$601||$678||$678|
|Housing for People with Disabilities||$230||$140||$154||$154|
|Housing Opportunities for People with HIV-AIDs||$375||$330||$393||$375|
|Community Development Block Grant formula|
Source: House and Senate bills (H.R. 6072 and S. 3023) and accompanying committee reports.
Note: HUD totals are gross budget authority, i.e., total program funding prior to deductions associated with mortgage insurance receipts and other offsets.