When Congress returns to Washington from spring recess on April 24, members will have only four full legislative days before the current continuing resolution (CR) – which is funding the federal government at fiscal year (FY) 16 levels – runs out. In order to continue funding the government after April 28, Congress must either pass a full-year CR for the remainder of FY 17 or a “cromnibus” bill in which some committees receive new FY 17 appropriations while others remain funded through a CR at FY 16 levels. There is strong bipartisan support for passing the completed FY 17 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill as part of a cromnibus package. But controversial proposals to provide funding for a border wall and block federal grants for sanctuary cities could be added to the spending bill, which have the potential to derail negotiations and result in a full-year CR for all agencies or potentially a government shutdown. If Congress fails to pass the completed FY 17 THUD appropriations and enacts a full-year CR without any adjustments known as “anomalies,” approximately 290,000 households would be at risk of losing their housing due to shortfalls in funding for Housing Choice Vouchers and Project-Based Rental Assistance.
If Congress completes FY17 appropriations next week, work will then begin on the FY 18 budget resolution and appropriations bills. The White House released its skinny budget request for FY18 spending in mid-March, which called for a $6.2 billion cut to HUD funding by eliminating multiple grant programs, including the Community Development Block Grant, HOME Investment Partnership, Section 4 Capacity Building and Choice Neighborhoods programs. These cuts would be harmful to families and communities at a time when the demand for affordable homes increasingly outweighs the supply.
Enterprise has helped to lead efforts in recent weeks to reaffirm and build grassroots and Congressional support for these programs. In the past month, 1,100 organizations have signed onto a letter in support of funding Section 4 at its current level of $35 million and a record 38 Senators have signed onto a “Dear Colleague” letter supporting the same funding level for Section 4. A letter that is still open for signatures already has 1,400 organizations signed on in support of funding the HOME program at $1.2 billion, with a record 45 Senators signing onto a “Dear Colleague” letter in support of funding for the HOME program. The Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding (CHCDF) also received nearly 3,500 signatures on a letter urging Congress to support full funding for affordable housing, community development and transportation programs.