The fiscal year 2001 (FY01) budget request for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs, in general, seeks funding increases. It is billed as the "best HUD budget in 20 years." Many of the programs that Church organizations utilize, support, and advocate for are advanced by this budget request. They are briefly outlined below.
Section 8 contracts: HUD proposes to renew all Section 8 contracts and seeks 120,000 new rental assistance vouchers. The new vouchers would be distributed as follows:
- 60,000 vouchers are not targeted to any specific population;
- 32,000 for families transitioning from welfare to work;
- 18,000 for people who are currently homeless;
- 10,000 for a new housing production program tied to the low income housing tax credit.
Homelessness Programs: HUD requests an increase from $1.02 billion to $1.2 billion for Stewart B. McKinney programs, including $105 million for the 18,000 new rental assistance vouchers for people who are currently homeless. The Shelter Plus Care program (which provides rent subsides that enable local governments and their nonprofit partners to provide housing linked to supportive services for extremely low income, formerly homeless persons) would become part of the Section 8 program. However, HUD is also seeking to require a 25% match of all funding for services from grantees (but removes the existing language requiring 30% of funds to be used for permanent housing).
Community Development Block Grant (CDBG): The $4.9 billion request for CDBG is an increase of $119 million over last year. Included is a new $20 million initiative to assist community-based nonprofit organizations (including faith-based ones) in their efforts to supply affordable housing, create economic opportunity, promote the goals of fair housing, and increase the effectiveness of other programs and initiatives administered in distressed high poverty areas. These funds will be distributed through a competitive grant process.
Section 202: The funding for elderly housing programs would increase $69 million to $779 million, including a new $50 million in grants to states and localities to subsidize new, mixed-income assisted living units.
Section 811: The funding for disabled housing programs would increase $9 million to $210 million. HUD would require 25 to 50% of these funds to be earmarked for tenant-based rental assistance.
Low Income Housing Tax Credit: HUD also calls for increasing the low income housing tax credit from $1.25 to $1.75 per capita and indexing it to inflation.
House and Senate Budget Committees expect to have a budget resolution completed by March 15 (a month earlier than required). The budget resolution sets general budget guidelines and acts as a blueprint for the appropriations subcommittees that distribute funds to programs. The following are other housing bills that both the Bishops' Conference and Catholic Charities USA are monitoring or actively involved with:
H.R. 175/S.1017 Increases the Low Income Housing Tax Credit
Both bill have been referred to committee (H.R. 175 in the House Ways and Means Committee and S. 1017 in the Senate Finance Committee); however, no action has yet been scheduled. Although a tax bill of some magnitude is expected this election year, whether an LIHTC increase will be included remains unclear. The President has included an increase to the tax credit, including indexing it to inflation, in his FY01 budget.
H.R. 595/S.1553 FHA Foreclosure Prevention
The bills have not seen committee action and advocates are seeking additional co-sponsors. Cardinal Mahony on behalf of the Bishops' Conference wrote in support of HR 595 and the USCCB is working to move the bill.
H.R. 1073 Homeless Programs Consolidation and Flexibility Act
After markup, the House Housing and Community Opportunity Subcommittee referred the bill to the House Banking and Financial Services Committee where it awaits consideration. While there is no Senate counterpart to this bill, Senator Allard of Colorado is expected to introduce one soon. Catholic Charities USA has lead the opposition to the passage of this bill.
H.R. 1776 Homeownership Bill
The bill is on an apparent "fast track" in the House of Representatives and has attracted a number of additional housing provisions. A scaled-back bill, S. 1333, has been introduced in the Senate by Ron Wyden (D-OR) and only addresses the "barriers to affordable homeownership" portion of H.R. 1776. The concept of homeownership has good bi-partisan support the manufactured housing provisions make the outlook for passage unclear.
The Catholic bishops support a national housing policy that includes: preservation and production of quality housing for low-income families, the elderly and other vulnerable people; as well as the participation and partnership of residents, nonprofit community groups, churches to build and preserve affordable housing. Churches, community groups, the private sector, and state and local government must all do more to meet our common responsibility for housing. However, there is no substitute for an involved, competent, and committed federal government.
1) The Bishops' Conference and Catholic Charities USA have voiced support for increased funding for HUD programs in general and increasing the number of vouchers for low income housing in particular. 2) Both organizations are working to improve on the housing bills now in Congress. If comprise is reached between the House and Senate, we will express our strong, continued commitment to affordable housing. 3) Activities around legislation to address homelessness continues to be monitored.
For more information, contact: Thom Shellabarger, USCCB at 202.541.3189 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Andy Rivas, Catholic Charities USA 703.549.1390 x130, email@example.com