Federal Housing News
October 5, 2015
Government Shutdown Averted, Budget Talks to Begin “Soon”
With just hours to spare, on September 30, the Senate and House passed and President Barack Obama signed a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the federal government funded through December 11. Now lawmakers must negotiate a budget deal that President Obama will agree to sign to keep the government operating through FY16.
The CR passed in the Senate by a vote of 78 to 20 and in the House by a vote of 277 to 151. All votes in opposition in both chambers were by Republicans. Only 91 House Republicans voted to keep the government open. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the frontrunner to succeed Representative John Boehner (R-OH) as Speaker of the House, voted in favor of the CR
Congressional leaders and advocates now are calling for a broader budget deal that ends the Budget Control Act sequester spending caps. “Avoiding a shutdown is just the first step. Next, we need a budget deal to cancel sequester,” Senate Committee on Appropriations Vice Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) said in a September 30 press release. “I challenge [Senate] leadership to work with Speaker Boehner to enact a new topline budget deal by the end of October. We can’t let October brinksmanship become a Christmas crisis,” she said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told the media on September 29 that he would begin discussions with Majority Leader Boehner and President Obama to achieve a budget agreement for FY16 and FY17 “very soon.”
In his weekly radio address on October 2, President Obama called on Congress to lift the sequester and fully fund federal programs. Reiterating his pledge to veto FY16 appropriations bills that are based on the current sequester levels, he said he would not sign another “short-sighted, short-term” CR.
Congress also faces another debt ceiling vote in the coming weeks. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew notified Congress on October 1 that the U.S. will reach the current debt ceiling limit around November 5. He urged Congress to act to raise the debt ceiling as soon as possible.
Read Vice Chair Mikulski’s statement is at: http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/news/vice-chairwoman-mikulski-statement-final-passage-clean-cr
The transcript of President Obama’s weekly address can be found at https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/10/03/weekly-address-congress-should-do-its-job-and-pass-serious-budget
Secretary Lew’s letter to Congress is at http://www.treasury.gov/connect/blog/Pages/Treasury-Sends-October-Debt-Limit-Letter-to-Congress.aspx
Federal Budget and Housing Webinar
Join organizations from across the country on October 19 at 3pm ET, for a webinar on Spending Caps, Budget Negotiations, and the Impact on Housing and Community Development in Your Community. Offered as part of the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding’s (CHCDF) #CapsHurt Communities campaign, the webinar will report on the current state of budget negotiations and how sequester spending caps or a year-long CR would impact affordable housing, homeless, and community development programs. The webinar also will discuss how participants can engage with elected officials and local and national media by sharing the potential impacts of cuts on communities.
CHCDF is a coalition of more than 70 national housing, homeless, and community development organizations working together to secure robust funding for these programs.
To register for the webinar, click the “Register” button at, https://enterprisecommunity.webex.com/enterprisecommunity/onstage/g.php?MTID=e98ad3fc55909cbc2c57b4b1c16b86adf
To learn more about CHCDF’s Caps Hurt Communities campaign, go to: www.capshurtcommunities.org.
GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN POSSIBLE. It seems unlikely Congress will pass final versions of any appropriations bills before the October 1 start of the new fiscal year, and the Administration has threatened presidential vetoes of the bills passed so far because of their low funding levels. Issues including Iran, abortion, tax measures, and the federal debt ceiling may be involved in efforts to pass a short-term Continuing Resolution, possibly lasting into December, that would keep the government working at FY15 funding levels. A government shutdown is also a possibility.
USDA LIKELY TO SPEND ALL 502 DIRECT FUNDS BUT NOT 504 LOAN FUNDS. As of September 15, USDA RD’s year-end efforts seem to be working: the agency has obligated 90.3% of its FY15 Section 502 direct loan dollars and expects to commit the rest by September 30. While 98.1% of Section 504 grant funds have been obligated, Section 504 loans are at only 51.3%. Contact a state or local USDA RD office.
RURAL POVERTY RATE UNCHANGED, INCOMES STAGNANT, CENSUS BUREAU REPORTS. The national (14.8%) and nonmetro (16.5%) poverty rates were statistically unchanged from 2013 to 2014, according to Income and Poverty in the United States: 2014, as were national and rural median incomes. In nonmetro places the rates of people lacking health insurance dropped from 12.8% in 2013 to 10.7% in 2014. HAC’s summary of the Census Bureau’s data is posted online.
HOME DEPOT FOUNDATION SEEKS PROPOSALS FOR RURAL VETERAN HOUSING PROJECTS. Awards will go to nonprofits, tribally designated housing entities, and housing authorities serving veterans at or below 80% of area median income in rural areas. Projects may be new construction or rehab, temporary or permanent housing, in progress or beginning within 12 months. Concept papers are due October 30. Contact Shonterria Charleston, HAC, 404-892-4824.
MEMBERS OF HOUSE AG COMMITTEE QUESTION USDA OFFICIALS. Hearings on September 15 and 16 covered all of USDA’s mission areas including Rural Development. Members mentioned overlap between HUD and USDA housing programs and the Section 502 mortgage programs’ “duplication” of private sector offerings. RD Under Secretary Lisa Mensah and RHS Administrator Tony Hernandez described the unique features of USDA’s housing programs, noted that staff cuts pose serious challenges for program delivery, promised increasing automation of loan processing, and emphasized the value of “trusted nonprofits” and “partners.”
SECTION 502 PACKAGING RULE DELAYED AGAIN. The final rule creating a certified loan application packaging process for Section 502 direct loans (see HAC News, 4/29/15), set to become effective on October 1, 2015 (see HAC News, 6/10/15), has now been deferred until October 1, 2016. Contact Brooke Baumann, RD, 202-690-4250.
PROCEDURE CHANGED FOR COMPLETING MANUFACTURED HOMES ONSITE. A new HUD regulation is intended to simplify the process. Contact Pamela B. Danner, HUD, 202-708-6423.
PHAS TO GET MORE FLEXIBILITY FOR FLAT RENTS. Comments are due November 9 on a HUD interim rule that supersedes part of an earlier proposed rule (see HAC News, 1/7/15). Contact Todd Thomas, HUD, 678-732-2056.
FY16 FAIR MARKET RENTS PROPOSED. These are the first FMRs using metropolitan area definitions issued by OMB in 2013, incorporating the 2010 Decennial Census data. HUD also invites feedback on alternative methodologies for setting FMRs. Comments are due October 8. Contact HUD USER, 800-245-2691.
GAO REPORTS ON OVERLAP IN RENTAL HOUSING PROGRAMS. Affordable Rental Housing: Assistance Is Provided by Federal, State, and Local Programs, but There Is Incomplete Information on Collective Performancereiterates earlier GAO findings about overlap among federal housing programs, and adds a sample of state and local programs. The report notes that overlap can have positive effects, such as helping to meet program objectives. It reviews activities of the Rental Policy Working Group, which includes representatives from several federal agencies and works with state and local agencies, and it notes collaboration efforts by state and local agencies. GAO recommends HUD work with the Rental Policy Working Group, states, and localities “to develop an approach for compiling and reporting on the collective performance of federal, state, and local rental assistance programs.”