President Signs Temporary Spending Bill to Fund Federal Agencies
On November 21, the President signed a continuing resolution (CR) passed by Congress that will fund the government at current spending levels through December 20. This stopgap measure prevented a government shutdown and now provides lawmakers with four weeks to reach a comprehensive FY20 spending agreement.
Sources are also reporting that top appropriators in the Senate and the House have reached a deal on spending levels for the dozen yearly appropriations bills over the weekend. Now that Congress has agreed to top-line spending numbers, known as 302(b)s, lawmakers will be able to move forward finalizing FY20 spending bills. As negotiations unfold, Enterprise encourages Congress to provide the highest possible funding levels for critical affordable housing and community development programs.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Senator Kamala Harris Introduce Affordable Housing Bill
On November 21, House Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA-43) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) introduced the Housing is Infrastructure Act of 2019 (S.2951 & H.R.5187), a bill to invest over $100 billion in federal programs aimed at addressing housing affordability, including $70 billion to repair public housing.
The bill would also help spur affordable housing construction and development in low-income communities by providing $10 billion for the Community Development Block Grant Program, as well as $5 billion each for the HOME Investment Partnership Program and the Housing Trust Fund. It would also boost funding for the Capital Magnet Fund, catalyze development on Native American reservations through the Native American Housing Block Grant Program, and provide key funding for mitigation projects to limit damage from future disasters, among other things. Finally, the bill requires grantees to conduct outreach to minority and women owned businesses to inform them of opportunities created through the new funds.
House Passes the Reforming Disaster Recovery Act of 2019
On November 18, the House passed the Reforming Disaster Recovery Act of 2019 (H.R.3702) with strong bipartisan support by a vote of 290-118. The bill, which passed out of the House Financial Services Committee this summer unanimously, was introduced by Reps. Al Green (D-TX-9) and Ann Wagner (R-MO-2) and would strengthen and permanently authorize the Community Development Block Grant–Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Program. Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Todd Young’s (R-IN) companion legislation (S.2301), which has been assigned to the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, will now need to pass in the Senate.
If enacted, the bill would help target CDBG-DR resources to survivors with the greatest need, ensure greater data transparency and oversight, protect civil rights and fair housing, and encourage mitigation and resiliency. Click on the following links to stay up to date on the status of S.2301 and H.R.3702.
Presidential Candidates Steyer and Warren Issue New Housing Policy Plans
Earlier last month, presidential candidate Mr. Tom Steyer released his plan, “Partnerships with Rural Communities,” that includes a housing component. The plan proposes expanding programs in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs Housing Improvement Program for affordable housing, including programs to develop new housing, renovate older units, and provide senior housing. The plan also prioritizes projects that build farm worker housing in towns rather than on job sites, incentivizes home weatherization programs through the restoration of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and enforces regulations against predatory landlords. To read Mr. Steyer’s full rural plan, click here.
Last month, Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) campaign released her plan, “Protecting and Empowering Renters,” a supplement to the housing policy platform she released this past March. The plan to protect and empower renters has four stated goals: 1) Protect and uphold the rights of tenants; 2) Tackle the growing cost of rent; 3) Invest in safe, healthy, and green public housing; and 4) Fight exploitation by corporate landlords. To read this supplemental plan, click here. To read Sen. Warren’s full housing plan released this past spring, click here.