House Passes HUD Funding
By Eugene T. Lowe
August 4, 2003
On July 25, the House of Representatives passed its HUD Funding Bill for fiscal year 2004 by a vote of 316 to 109. The bill, H.R. 2861, was not without controversy; primarily centered around the low funding of the HOPE VI program, and the under funding of the Housing Certificate Fund for Section 8 vouchers prompted amendments on the floor. The Subcommittee on VA-HUD and Independent Agencies did not recommend funding for the administration's proposal to convert the Section 8 housing voucher to a state administered block grant program. Similarly, the subcommittee did not recommend funding for the administration's Samaritan Initiative that would end chronic homelessness in 10 years. Funding was also not recommended for the Section 108 Loan Guarantee program.
The bill slightly increased Community Development Block Grant formula grants, funding the program at $4.539 billion. The HOME Investment Partnerships program is funded at $2.064 billion, a $77 million increase over last year's level. Within the HOME appropriation is $125 million for down payment assistance, a key component of the administration's goal to increase minority homeownership.
The public housing capital fund is funded at $2.7 billion, the same as last year's level, and the public housing operating fund is funded at $3.6 billion, which is a $25 million increase over last year's funding. HOPE VI, the program for severely distressed public housing, is funded at $50 million, which is more than $500 million less than last year's level.
During consideration of the VA-HUD bill, Representatives Jerrold Nadler (NY) and Nydia Velazquez (NY) offered an amendment to add $150 million to the Housing Certificate Fund for Section 8 vouchers. The amendment, which passed, is funded through an offset from HUD's Working Capital Fund used to upgrade information technology for the department. Passage of the amendment was important because of an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) which found that the VA-HUD appropriations subcommittee had approved a funding level that would leave 85,000 voucher users without shelter. The amendment would fund a little more than 20,000 of the vouchers in use, leaving some 60,000 vouchers that still must be funded.
Also on the house floor, Representative Chaka Fattah (PA) offered an amendment to provide $4.5 million to be used for technical assistance for HOPE VI. The amendment passed.
Other programs funded in the VA-HUD bill include:
- Homeless assistance funded at $1.242 billion, a $25 million increase over last year.
- Section 202 elderly housing and Section 811 disabled housing funded at $773 million and $250 million respectively, both funded at the administration's request.
- Brownfields redevelopment grants, which the administration had recommended to be transferred to EPA, is funded as a HUD program at $25 million.
- Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities are funded at $15 million.
- Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) is funded at $302 million, following an amendment on the house floor by Representative Nadler for an additional $5 million for the program.
The Senate will take up the VA-HUD and Independent Agencies funding bill when it returns following the August recess.