The Senate on August 1 voted 92–6 to approve a four-bill "minibus" spending package including the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) and Agriculture (USDA) bills. The Senate passed the measure, which maintains FY 2018’s increased funding for most HUD and USDA housing programs, with only a limited number of housing-related amendments and no modifications to the Appropriations Committee-approved program funding levels.
Affordable housing program highlights from the minibus are below. For updated information on specific program funding levels, please see NCSHA’s Appropriations Chart.
The Senate FY 2019 THUD bill provides $44.5 billion in total net discretionary spending for HUD programs, a four percent increase over FY 2018 levels. This increased allocation ensured that the bill could fully fund all tenant- and project-based rental assistance, maintain FY 2018’s increased funding levels for critical programs like the HOME Investment Partnerships program (HOME), and make other targeted investments. HUD highlights from the bill include:
- $1.362 billion for HOME, the same as FY 2018 enacted, and 10 percent higher than what the House Appropriations Committee provided in its FY 2019 bill.
- Extends HOME’s 24-month commitment deadline suspension through 2021.
- $22.8 billion for Housing Choice Vouchers, which is enough to renew existing vouchers according to the Appropriations Committee. This amount also includes $1.95 billion for administrative fees to cover Public Housing Agencies’ costs running the voucher program, $197 million more than last year and $407 million more than the Administration’s FY 2019 request.
- $11.7 billion to renew all project-based rental assistance contracts, an increase of $632 million over last year. This amount includes $245 million for contract administration, $40 million less than FY 2018 and $45 million more than the House Appropriations Committee-passed FY 2019 bill provided.
- $3.3 billion for Community Development Block Grants, equal to FY 2018 funding.
- $2.6 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants, $99 million more than FY 2018 funding, with a focus on serving homeless youth and survivors of domestic violence.
- $678 million to the Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program, equal to FY 2018 funding, including $51 million set aside for capital advance and project-based rental assistance award, and $10 million for home modification grants to help low-income seniors age in place.
The Senate approved by voice vote the following amendments to the HUD funding bill:
- An amendment introduced by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) that would direct HUD to ensure property owners cannot unlawfully evict or deny housing to people based on their status as survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
- An amendment introduced by Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) that requires HUD and the Environmental Protection Agency to report on efforts related to the removal of lead-based paint and other hazardous materials.
- An amendment introduced by Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) that would prohibit people charged with certain crimes from receiving housing assistance.
The Senate-passed THUD bill is accompanied by report language filed by the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier in June. The Committee references two NCSHA priorities in this report:
- Performance-Based Contract Administration (PBCA): The Committee expresses concern that "proposals to reduce the scope of work performed by PBCAs, diminish the applicability of Federal law, or consolidate PBCAs into regional awards versus State-by-State, will have a detrimental effect on the oversight of these HUD-assisted properties and the individuals and families that rely on this critical source of affordable housing."
- Federal Housing Agency (FHA) – Housing Finance Agency (HFA) Risk-Sharing Program Federal Financing Bank (FFB) Initiative: The Committee directs HUD to continue working with HFAs that have existing HUD–FFB risk-sharing agreements in place; encourages HUD to make every effort to expedite the approval of projects; and directs HUD to work with FFB and to seek input from HFAs and other stakeholders in order to assess the effectiveness of the initiative.
USDA Rural Housing Programs
The FY 2019 USDA bill funds most rural housing programs at FY 2018 levels, with slight increases for vouchers and the Rental Preservation Demonstration. USDA Rural Housing highlights include:
- $24 billion in loan authority for Section 502 guaranteed loan program, equal to the FY 2018-enacted level and the President’s request.
- $1.1 billion for the Section 502 direct loan program, $100 million more than the House Appropriations Committee-passed FY 2019 bill.
- $1.3 billion for Section 521 Rental Assistance, enough to renew all existing rental assistance contracts according to the Appropriations Committee.
- $26 million for Section 542 Rural Voucher Assistance, 4 percent more than FY 2018.
- $24 million for the Rental Preservation Demonstration, $2 million more than FY 2018.
The Senate approved an amendment introduced by Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) that would direct USDA to report to Congress on the agency’s strategy — and the tools and resources needed — to preserve affordable rental homes in rural America.
The House has not yet passed its THUD and USDA bills, but they would likely need to do so before conferencing with the Senate to negotiate final appropriations bills. The House could also vote on the Senate’s version of the package. As the House is in recess until September, Congress may need to pass a stopgap funding measure, or "Continuing Resolution," to provide more time to finalize FY 2019 funding bills after the fiscal year begins on October 1.