CHN: House Committee Considers Omnibus Housing Bill
National Housing Trust Fund Amendment Passes
On Thursday, June 20, the House Financial Services Committee began marking up HR 3995, an omnibus affordable housing bill introduced by Representative Marge Roukema (R-NJ) last March. The bill contains major provisions specifically aimed at increasing the availability of adequate housing for very low and extremely low-income people, in addition to authorizing funds for a variety of federal housing programs and overhauling some housing regulations.
The committee approved several amendments, including one that would create a National Housing Trust Fund to provide funds to build, rehabilitate, and preserve 1.5 million units of low-income housing over the next 10 years. After impassioned debate between Democrats and Republicans, the committee approved the amendment – introduced by Representative Bernie Sanders (I-VT) – by a 33-28 party-line vote.
While advocates view committee approval of the Trust Fund amendment as a major victory for the National Housing Trust Fund Campaign, the House committee has not yet concluded work on the full bill. Moreover, under House rules, any member who votes in favor of an amendment can later request to have the amendment reconsidered. Because one Republican (Representative Richard Baker-LA) changed his vote from “no” to “yes,” it is believed that opponents of the amendment may attempt to have it reconsidered when there are more Republicans in the room (there are 37 Republicans and 32 Democrats on the committee). It is unclear when the markup will resume.
The amendment stipulates that the National Housing Trust Fund would use profits from the FHA Mutual Mortgage Insurance Program and Ginnie Mae to assist in the construction, rehabilitation, and preservation of housing units. Most of the homes that would benefit from National Housing Trust Fund dollars would be rental units affordable to families at or below 30 percent of area median income.
The National Housing Trust Fund would be modeled on the more than 280 state and local housing trust funds, which together have created and preserved several hundred thousand units of affordable housing. The National Housing Trust Fund Campaign consists of more than 2,700 endorsers, including housing advocacy organizations, faith-based groups, labor organizations, banks, business groups, the United Way, and state and local elected officials.