The fiscal year 2020 funding bill that a House subcommittee released on May 22, 2019, would invest substantial additional resources to help low-income families that struggle with the high cost of housing. Overall, the bill would raise Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program funding by $3.8 billion (or 7 percent) over the nominal (not inflation-adjusted) 2019 level. (The subcommittee press release cites a rise of $5.9 billion, but $2.1 billion of it will simply fill a hole created by an expected decline in HUD receipts associated with mortgage insurance programs.)
Among its many positive provisions, the House bill would:
- Raise funding for Housing Choice Vouchers and Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance by $1.9 billion to cover the cost of rising rents and fully renew the aid that more than 3.4 million households — nearly all of which include seniors, people with disabilities, or children — use to rent modest homes in the private market at an affordable cost;
- Provide $85 million for new housing vouchers to help an additional 9,000 families afford decent homes, including about 4,500 homeless veterans and 4,500 families and youth that are either homeless or living in areas of concentrated poverty, or child welfare agencies have identified as being at risk;
- Help state and local housing agencies assist potentially thousands more families by reissuing some housing vouchers that have been cut in recent years due to funding disruptions;
- Double the size of the innovative Housing Choice Voucher mobility demonstration, which would help at-risk families with children relocate to neighborhoods with higher-quality schools and other opportunities — which rigorous research shows can substantially improve children’s chances of succeeding in school and the workplace;
- Provide $20 million — 25 percent — more in funding for Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program coordinators, which would enable about 22,000 more families in HUD’s rental programs (including those receiving Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance) to benefit from the coaching and asset-building that FSS provides;
- Provide the largest increase in six years for homeless assistance grants, which would enable communities to help thousands more people move quickly from shelters and the streets into decent, stable homes;
- Increase funding for the supportive housing programs for seniors, people with disabilities, and people with HIV/AIDS by a total of $216 million, which would help thousands of vulnerable people have decent, stable homes in which to live;
- Provide an additional $130 million to make badly needed repairs to public housing, as well as an additional $150 million to renovate public and other assisted housing in connection with broader community redevelopment efforts through the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative;
- Restore some $900 million in funding for major flexible grant programs (the HOME, Community Development Block Grant, and Native American Housing Block Grant programs) in part to rehabilitate and produce affordable housing in communities across the country; and
- Prohibit HUD from implementing its proposed new regulation that would cancel rental assistance for thousands of U.S. citizens and eligible immigrants — causing most to lose their homes — because they are living with family members who are ineligible for aid due to their immigration status; it would also prevent HUD from rolling back protections for LGBTQ people seeking assistance.
The House bill is a major step forward, in sharp contrast with President Trump’s 2020 budget, which proposed deep cuts across HUD programsthat would cause hundreds of thousands of families to lose the assistance they need to remain in stable homes.
The House bill also shows the need for the President and Congress to substantially raise the limits on overall defense and non-defense discretionary spending that are scheduled to take effect for 2020 under the Budget Control Act. The House subcommittee drafted its HUD funding bill in accordance with the higher spending limits that the House agreed to earlier this year. The Senate and the President now must also reach agreement on higher spending limits in order to finalize these important investments to help more vulnerable families afford decent, stable homes.