Clouds and Some Silver Linings for Housing in Omnibus Spending Bill

LeadingAge got a look at the omnibus spending bill early this morning. Congress has given itself until midnight this Friday to pass the measure to avoid a government shutdown.

As with any 1600+ page bill, there are bright spots and disappointments (what advocates like to refer to as hurdles to be conquered in the next legislative vehicle).

For affordable housing programs, the bright spots include full renewal funding for Section 202 Project Rental Assistance Contracts (PRACs) and Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance, which provides the rental assistance for more than 204,000 Section 202 homes. If Congress could not reach sufficient agreement to pass this omnibus spending bill, which it’s expected to do by week’s end, HUD would have been about $70 million short of the funds it will need to renew Section 202 PRAC contracts in fiscal year 2018, and almost $200 million short of funds needed to renew Section 8 PBRA contracts.

In these two areas, the omnibus bill is good news and demonstrates the power of grassroots advocacy in a difficult budget year.

Other good news is a new, $10 million appropriation for either new Section 202 construction or Senior Preservation Assistance Contracts (SPRACS). New Section 202 construction funds are sorely needed and have not been provided by Congress since fiscal year 2011. The SPRAC program has only ever been funded once until this morning’s bill came to light, in 2013. That year, a $14.8 million appropriation for SPRAC allowed HUD to preserve more than 1700 older, Section 202 direct loan program units that had matured and would’ve otherwise been lost from the affordable housing inventory. Whether HUD uses the $10 million for new construction or for SPRAC will be the HUD Secretary’s choice.

In a major disappointment to LeadingAge is the bill’s absence of needed authority to expand HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration to include PRACs. LeadingAge understands that HUD Secretary Ben Carson has expressed a lot of interest in the RAD program and we are hopeful HUD’s fiscal year 2018 spending bill will include this authority.

The bill also includes language from Senator Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) “HUD Inspection Process and Enforcement Reform Act of 2017,” which seeks to improve property conditions at underperforming HUD-assisted properties.

Next up after this bill’s passage is a focus on funding for fiscal year 2018, which begins on October 1. President Trump is expected to issue the Administration’s request for fiscal year 2018 in mid- or late-May.


Your Voices on Capitol Hill

 

LeadingAge joined other national housing and community development organizations for the National Call-in Day for HUD funding campaign held on April 26. The campaign encouraged advocates to call their Senate and House offices and urge them to enact a fiscal year 2017 bill to fully fund HUD’s critical programs. LeadingAge members wasted no time and generated over 900 calls to Congressional offices on that day.

So far this year, LeadingAge members have generated over 4,000 communications to Congress in support of HUD affordable housing programs. We would like to thank our advocates for their good work and encourage them to keep the momentum going by communicating with their lawmakers regularly.

If you have any questions or need additional details, please contact Marsha Padilla-Goad. Phone: (202) 508-9442.


 

President Nominates Patenaude for HUD Deputy Secretary

President Trump has nominated Pamela Patenaude to be Deputy Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is the first HUD nomination from the White House since HUD Secretary Ben Carson was confirmed in March. HUD’s Deputy Secretary manages the day-to-day operations of the agency.

Ms. Patenaude was HUD Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development under President George W. Bush. Ms. Patenaude was the director of the Bipartisan Policy Center Housing Commission, a congressionally-mandated commission, and is currently the President of the J. Ronald Terwilliger Foundation for America’s Families whose goal is to “develop a dynamic and balanced national housing policy framework for the 21st Century - a framework that properly aligns public policies with the nation’s housing needs.”

Ms. Patenaude’s nomination must be confirmed by the Senate.

The next step in the confirmation process is hearing before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affair Committee. There are about 80 political appointees at HUD; of these, about 10 must be confirmed by the Senate.