Congress Prepares to Complete Fiscal Year 2017 Appropriations

Last week, several documents were leaked from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that detail $18 billion in proposed program cuts for fiscal year (FY) 2017 to offset the President’s proposed increases to defense and border security spending. These proposed cuts come in the aftermath of the administration’s skinny budget proposal for FY 18 appropriations, released earlier in March, which proposed an $18 billion cut to non-defense discretionary programs, also to fund increases for defense and border security. The FY 18 plan did not detail where the $18 billion would come from.

The latest documents from OMB calls for the following cuts in FY 17 appropriations, among others:

  • Cutting the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program funding in half
  • Eliminating all funding for the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) in the Treasury Department
  • Eliminating the Section 4 Capacity Building for Affordable Housing and Community Development (Section 4) and the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative
  • Eliminating the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP)
  • Reducing the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation (NeighborWorks) program by $75 million

A recent New York Times article examines how deep cuts to HUD programs would impact communities and families across the U.S. HUD programs, such as the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) and CDBG, help low-income homeowners afford needed repairs, provide supportive services like Meals on Wheels for seniors and supplement funding for infrastructure projects like road repairs. To measure the impacts that these cuts would have nationwide, a new tool from Affordable Housing Online allows the user to view how the Trump Administration’s FY 18 budget blueprint would impact funding for housing and community development programs by state and district. This tool compares the proposed cuts to FY 16 budget levels, rather than the funding levels needed in FY 18 to fully support the programs, indicating that the proposed cuts could have an even greater impact on communities.

The proposed FY 17 cuts have been met with stiff resistance in both chambers of Congress, where appropriators are unenthusiastic about reopening essentially completed spending bills. Back in December, Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR) for FY 17 appropriations to fund the government through April 28 at FY 16 levels, after which time Congress will need to either pass a full budget for the remainder of FY 17, or extend the CR until the end of the fiscal year. There is not yet consensus on the Hill about whether Congress will move forward with a full CR or with a hybrid version in which some accounts receive a CR and others receive an actual bill. A full CR for the remainder of FY 17 would put more than 100,000 housing vouchers at risk because, in order to renew all existing contracts, the voucher program requires funding increases to address rising housing costs.

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