CHN: Congress Approves, President Signs, Final Housing Appropriation Bill
On November 30, President Bush signed into law the appropriation for the Treasury and Transportation Departments and HUD (H.R. 3058). The House approved the final appropriation on November 18 by a vote of 392-31. The Senate approved it by unanimous consent the same day. The bill, which was subject to earlier disputes about Amtrak funding and restrictions on travel to Cuba, funds HUD at $34 billion, a $2.1 billion increase over the previous year and $4.8 more than was proposed in the administration’s budget.
Housing programs facing cuts under the bill include the Community Development Block Grants (cut from $4.671 billion to $4.220 billion), and public housing revitalization under HOPE VI (which is reduced from its already low 2005 level of $144 million to $100 million).
Section 8 rental assistance is increased almost $600 million to $20.7 billion. However, because the final bill includes the voucher funding distribution policy proposed by the House rather than by the Senate, voucher funding will be distributed much less efficiently to housing agencies. As a result, the funding level will restore funding for less than half of the vouchers that were cut in FY 2005 when a funding shortfall forced HUD to cut agency funding by over 4 percent.
Homeless Assistance Grants are funded at $1.3 billion, an increase of about $100 million. Programs funded at nearly the same level as the previous year include Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS, Section 202 Housing for the Elderly, and Section 811 Housing for Disabled.
Advocates note that housing programs could still face more cuts if an across-the-board cut to all discretionary programs is attached to the final appropriation bill Congress approves this year. The National Low-Income Housing Coalition and other housing organizations sent a letter to Congress explaining that even a cut of just two percent would “eliminate funding for more than 40,000 units of affordable housing in 2006 and cut $200 million that is needed to maintain public housing and support community development projects across the country.”
Housing advocates’ letter to Congress. **BROKEN LINK**