Posted July 24, 2017
On Wednesday, July 12, the full House Appropriations Committee favorably reported to the full House of Representatives, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Agriculture Appropriations bill. Similarly on Tuesday, July 11, the Transportation and Department of Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Subcommittee voted to report its version of the THUD Appropriations bill for FY 2018 to the full House Appropriations Committee. A vote at full Committee on this funding bill is expected on Monday, July 17. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittees are expected to begin consideration of their versions of various funding bills next week.
In terms of funding for Rural Development (RD) programs, the House Committee essentially ignored the Administration’s proposed budget for FY 2018. (See attached appropriations chart.) The Committee did agree with the Administration’s request to fund the Section 521 Rental Assistance (RA) program at the budget request of $1.345 billion, a reduction of $60 million from the FY 2017. The justification for this reduction is that RD does not need that sum in the upcoming fiscal year. The Committee explains that RD has been using monies in one fiscal year to renew contracts in the first quarter of the next fiscal year, which is referred to as “forward funding.” This practice was used during the last year to ensure that RA is available should Congress not pass a full year appropriations bill prior to the beginning of the new fiscal year. While CARH certainly understands the fiscal constraints of the Committee, we are concerned that given the shortage of funding in past fiscal years and the RA crisis that ensued in FY 2015, this reduction could present problems for owners and residents, especially if sequestration becomes part of the overall budget equation. Therefore, CARH continues to urge funding at the FY 2017 level of $1.405 billion.
The Committee also has recommended $230 million in budget authority for the Section 538 program. This is $20 million less than the Administration’s budget request but the same budget authority as in FY 2017. CARH would urge the Senate to allow the full $250 million. The program is a revenue neutral program and the guarantee is paid for with fees from program participants. The Section 538 program has been oversubscribed for the last two years and additional authority will help meet increasing need. For the Committee report, click here.
The Committee appears to agree with the RD’s proposed reorganization that would eliminate the Under Secretary for Rural Development and replacing that position with an Assistant to the Secretary. There is no discussion in the bill or report accompanying the bill as to any specific questions or concerns regarding delegation of authority or lines or reporting between state offices, agencies and this Assistant. CARH continues to have concerns because of the continued lack of specifics regarding the reorganization plan. The Senate will have an opportunity to weigh in on this as they consider their version of the USDA appropriations bill.
Turning to the THUD Appropriations bill, like the USDA funding bill, the Subcommittee ignored the Administration’s budget request. (See attached chart.) CARH, however, has concerns with funding for the HOME program. While the House would provide $850 million, this is a cut of $100 million from FY 2017. CARH strongly believes that the program should be funded at the FY 2017 level of $950 million. Overall this bill is a slight reduction from FY2017. CARH supports FY2017 funding with an additional amount tracking increased rent and program costs.
While the Senate intends to delay its August recess to work toward passage of a healthcare bill to replace the current Affordable Care Act, the House will likely leave as planned at the beginning of August. We ask that CARH members invite your members of Congress and their staffs to your properties during this recess in August so that they can see firsthand what you do and how these affordable housing communities can make a difference in people’s lives. Your Senators will be home by the middle of August so you can plan accordingly with their schedules as well.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact CARH at 703-837-9001 or email@example.com.