|Earlier today, the HOME Coalition, which NCSHA chairs, unveiled its just-released report, Building HOME: The HOME Investment Partnerships Program’s Impact on America’s Families and Communities, at a briefing on the Hill for members of Congress and their staff. The first-of-its kind report analyzes HOME’s housing and economic impact at the national and state levels.
The briefing was standing room only, with more than 65 congressional staff members from both sides of the aisle and both chambers attending. Many of the congressional staff in the room work for the Appropriations Committees or in the personal offices of Appropriations Committee members. The strong showing indicates that, thanks to NCSHA’s and our HOME Coalition allies’ advocacy efforts, members of Congress and their staff are paying attention to what happens to HOME.
Long-time HOME supporters, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Chris Coons (D-DE), sponsored the briefing. In his introductory remarks, Senator Coons noted that he was hopeful about the budget deal congressional leaders and the White House announced earlier this week that would raise the caps on both domestic discretionary and defense funding, but explained that this only provides new top-line numbers, and does not indicate increases for specific programs. He charged those in the room with making sure HOME funding is restored as appropriators write new spending bills under the increased budget numbers.
Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency’s (PHFA) Bill Fogerty presented at the briefing, explaining how PHFA uses HOME funds to provide affordable rental and homeownership options to low-income households in Pennsylvania. Also speaking at the briefing were Sarah Mickelson from Enterprise Community Partners, Tony Gibbons from Blount County Habitat for Humanity, Jaqueline Alexander from The Community Builders, and Kathy Koch from Arundel Community Development Services.
According to Building HOME, states and communities have invested $26 billion in HOME funds and leveraged an additional $117 billion to build and preserve 1.2 million affordable homes and provide rental assistance to 270,000 families since 1992. The report also estimates that this investment has supported more than 1.5 million jobs nationwide and generate $94 billion in local income. In addition to Building HOME, the HOME Coalition also released state-by-state HOME fact sheets and success stories.
Through hard data and compelling case stories from across the country, Building HOME makes the case that Congress should be investing in HOME instead of continuing to cut this critical program. Congress has already cut HOME funding in half in recent years, from $1.8 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 to a record low of $900 million in FY 2015.
While the Administration’s FY 2016 budget proposed to increase funding to $1.06 billion in 2016, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees– constrained by spending caps imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011 –sought to cut HOME direct appropriations to $767 million and $66 million, respectively. They will have the chance to revisit those cuts assuming Congress passes the newly announced budget deal and once appropriations subcommittees have new spending levels set for their individual bills.
For more information on the report and other actions the HOME Coalition has taken to protect and restore HOME funding, please visit the HOME Coalition webpage.