|In the early hours of the morning on December 16, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 omnibus spending bill, providing $1.1 trillion in funding for government operations, including funding for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Housing Service programs.
The bill is a major victory for NCSHA, providing $950 million for the HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) program, $50 million more than its FY 2015 level. In an environment of constrained spending, an increase of $50 million is a notable accomplishment.
NCSHA and other HOME program allies have worked together this year to defeat the earlier House proposal to cut direct HOME appropriations to $767 million and transfer $133 million from the Housing Trust Fund (HTF) to HOME and the earlier Senate proposal to cut HOME by 93 percent to just $66 million. The HOME funding increase in the FY 2016 omnibus spending bill comes entirely from new appropriations, leaving the HTF intact.
The bill also transfers $2 billion in funding from the Making Home Affordable program to the Treasury Department’s Hardest Hit Fund (HHF) program, through which 19 HFAs administer loss mitigation and other neighborhood stabilization initiatives. The additional funding would be available to all HFAs currently participating in HHF. The bill would also allow Treasury to extend the HHF program beyond 2017, when it is currently set to expire. NCSHA is reaching out to Treasury to get more details about when the additional funds would be made available to those HFAs in the HHF program and how those funds would be allocated.
Overall, the omnibus provides $38.6 billion for HUD programs, technically an increase of $3 billion over FY 2015 funding. However, lower Federal Housing Administration receipts compared to prior years mean that the bill actually provides only $1.9 billion more than FY 2015.
Other key HUD and USDA housing program funding details include:
· $19.63 billion for Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers. This includes $17.68 billion for voucher renewals which appropriators say is enough to renew all existing vouchers, $1.65 billion for Public Housing Authorities’ (PHA) administrative costs, and $65 million for Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers.
· $10.62 billion for project-based rental assistance, which although lower than the Administration’s FY 2016 request of 10.76 billion, reflects HUD’s updated estimate of need and supports the calendar-year shift.
· $215 million for performance-based contract administrators’ (PBCA) administrative fees. HUD is currently reviewing the legislation to determine the extent to which it will be able to fund its recent proposal to reinstate Management and Occupancy Reviews on a temporary basis. NCSHA will update HFA PBCAs as soon as we hear from HUD about the outcome of their analysis.
· $2.25 billion for HUD’s Homeless Assistance Grants, which represents a 5 percent increase over FY 2015 funding but $230 million less than the Administration’s FY 2016 request.
· $3 billion for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), the same as FY 2015 enacted levels and $120 million more than the Administration’s FY 2016 request.
· $151 million for Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities, a 12 percent increase over FY 2015 funding and $14 million more than the Senate Appropriations Committee-passed FY 2016 funding bill.
· $433 million for Section 202 Housing for the Elderly, a 3 percent increase over FY 2015 funding $22 million less than the Administration’s FY 2016 request.
· $1.39 billion for the Section 521 rural rental assistance program, $30 million more than its FY 2015 level which had proven insufficient to meet renewal needs.
· $15 million for the Section 542 rural housing voucher program, a significant increase over the $7 million FY 2015 level.
· $900 million for the Section 502 single-family subsidized direct loan program and $24 billion for the Section 502 unsubsidized guaranteed loan program, both equal to their FY 2015 levels
· $28 million for the Section 515 rural rental housing loan program, equal to its FY 2015 level.
· $150 million for the Section 538 multifamily loan guarantee program, equal to its FY 2015 level.
We expect the House to vote on the legislation on Friday, in keeping with Speaker Ryan’s pledge to provide at least three days for members to consider legislation prior to voting on it. Senate consideration will follow soon thereafter. Both chambers are expected to pass the bill.
In the meantime, Congress will need to pass another short-term Continuing resolution (CR) to avoid a government shutdown, as funding under the current CR expires midnight tonight. The new CR is expected to run through December 22 to ensure continued funding while the House then Senate vote on the omnibus.
NCSHA will provide further analysis of the funding levels and provisions in the omnibus when further materials, including the conference report, are released.