Federal Housing News
June 22, 2015
Representative Lee Introduces Anti-Poverty Bill That Includes NHTF Provisions
On June 10, Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced H.R. 2721, the “Pathways Out of Poverty Act of 2015,” a comprehensive anti-poverty bill that includes major initiatives on housing, education, nutrition, jobs, and tax credits. Ms. Lee introduced a similar measure last Congress.
Ms. Lee’s bill includes the Common Sense Housing Investment Act, H.R. 1662, which was introduced by Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) in March (see Memo, 3/31). Both bills would fund the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) from revenues created by modifications to the mortgage interest deduction. Mr. Ellison’s bill and H.R. 2721 would convert the mortgage interest deduction into a mortgage interest tax credit, and the bills would reduce the value of mortgages for which taxpayers paying mortgage interest can receive the tax credit from $1 million to $500,000. These modifications would generate more than $230 billion over ten years. Both measures would direct 60% of these monies into the NHTF, with the rest to the Public Housing Capital Fund, Section 8, and Low Income Housing Tax Credit programs.
H.R. 2721 has 41 original cosponsors. Because of its broad nature, the bill has been referred to ten House committees, including the House Financial Services Committee, which has oversight of housing policy issues, and the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax policy.
The text of H.R. 2721 is at https://www.congress.gov/114/bills/hr2721/BILLS-114hr2721ih.pdf
More information about H.R. 1662 is at http://nlihc.org/unitedforhomes/legislation.
More information about mortgage interest deduction reform is at http://nlihc.org/unitedforhomes
Senate Set to Take Up THUD Bill
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) is scheduled to mark up its FY16 spending bill on Tuesday, June 23. Consideration of the THUD bill by the full Committee on Appropriations may occur later in the week.
Although the Senate’s THUD Subcommittee received a higher allocation than its House counterpart, the amount is not expected to allow for a Senate THUD bill that adequately funds HUD’s housing and community development programs. The House THUD Subcommittee allocation was $55.27 billion; the Senate THUD allocation is $55.65 billion. How the Senate THUD Subcommittee divides this amount among HUD, the Department of Transportation, and the various related agencies will become public early in the week of June 22.
The House’s THUD allocation ultimately resulted in a bill that passed the House on June 9 (see Memo, 6/15) that would zero out the National Housing Trust Fund, cut key programs like HOME, Public Housing Capital, and Section 202 Housing for the Elderly, and provide insufficient funds to renew existing housing choice vouchers and project-based rental assistance.
NLIHC issued an action alert on June 18 asking advocates with Senators on the THUD Subcommittee to urge their Senators to oppose any THUD bill that raids the NHTF, cuts key program funding, or does not provide sufficient resources to renew existing housing choice vouchers and project-based rental assistance.
The June 23 Senate THUD mark-up will be at 10 am ET in room 138 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.
NLIHC’s action alert is at http://nlihc.org/article/take-action-senate-thud-subcommittee-mark-imminent
NLIHC’s budget chart is at http://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/FY16HUD-USDA_Budget-Chart.pdf
House Subcommittee Acts on FY16 Rural Housing Bill
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies approved its FY16 spending bill by voice vote on June 18. The bill would fund most USDA Rural Housing Service programs at FY15 levels for the next fiscal year. The bill would also reject the Administration’s request to impose a $50 per month minimum rent on Section 521 Rental Assistance households. NLIHC and other organizations oppose minimum rents (see Memo, 4/18/14).
For FY16, the bill would increase funds for Section 521 Rental Assistance from $1.089 billion in FY15 to $1.167 billion in FY16, almost up to President Barack Obama’s request of $1.172 billion. The Section 515 Rural Rental Housing program would receive $28.4 billion, the same as in FY15. According to analysis by the Housing Assistance Council (HAC), the FY16 bill also contains language that would not renew Rental Assistance contracts if they use all of their funds before the end of their 12-month contract renewal periods. This provision was in the FY15 bill. HAC indicates that this policy affects only a few Rental Assistance contracts, and that USDA is working to further reduce the impact of this policy.
The bill would provide $7 million for Section 542 vouchers, the same as in FY15. These vouchers are provided to tenants living in Section 515 properties when the mortgages on those properties are prepaid. When mortgages on Section 515 properties mature, however, residents who have Section 521 Rental Assistance stop receiving assistance. Mortgages on Section 515 properties representing more than 33,000 units of rural multifamily housing are expected to mature by 2024. Therefore, HAC and other organizations contend that the use of Section 542 vouchers should be expanded to cover tenants in Section 515 properties when the mortgages on those properties mature. USDA sought such an expansion in its FY16 budget request, but it is not in the House FY16 bill.
HAC’s analysis of the bill is at http://ruralhome.org/whats-new/menu-policy/1168-house-fy16-agriculture-funding-bill-released
NLIHC’s budget chart, http://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/FY16HUD-USDA_Budget-Chart.pdf.
Resolution Urges CDBG Eligibility for All Veteran Service Organizations
On June 12, Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) introduced resolution H. Res. 314, which would express the sense of the House of Representatives that the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) statute should be amended to ensure that all veterans’ service organizations are eligible to use CDBG funds for public facilities improvements.
The resolution notes that the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, and other veteran service organizations provide services to veterans such as benefit assistance, career services, homeless outreach, educational programs, and emergency shelter. However, there have been situations in which some local posts were considered ineligible to use CDBG for their facilities.
The resolution was referred to the House Committee on Financial Services.
H. Res. 314 is at https://www.congress.gov/114/bills/hres314/BILLS-114hres314ih.pdf
HOUSE PASSES THUD SPENDING BILL. On June 9, the House passed the FY16 Transportation-HUD spending bill(H.R. 2577) with only one change in HUD funding levels (see HAC News, 4/29/15): $2.5 million was added for Section 202 elderly housing, offset by reduced funding for HUD’s Policy Development and Research office. The bill directs National Housing Trust Fund funding to the HOME program. Amendments adopted by the House prohibit funding the private enforcement initiative under HUD’s Fair Housing Initiative Program, and enforcing HUD’s affirmatively furthering fair housing rule (see HAC News, 7/17/13) and disparate impact rule (see HAC News, 2/20/13). Last week, the House passed an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science spending bill barring the Department of Justice from enforcing the disparate impact rule. A Supreme Court decision on a disparate impact case is expected later this month. The Senate has not begun action on its THUD bill.
LEAD HAZARD FUNDING OFFERED. Governments of states, counties, cities, townships, and tribes can apply by June 23 for HUD’s FY15 Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration Grant Program and the Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control Grant Program. Contact Eric Hornbuckle, HUD, 202-402-7599.
RD SEEKS 502 PACKAGING INTERMEDIARY APPLICATIONS, DELAYS RULE’S EFFECTIVE DATE. July 9 is the deadline for experienced nonprofits and state HFAs to apply to be intermediaries for the Section 502 direct packaging process. Pilot program intermediaries must reapply. (The April application invitation reported in the HAC News, 4/15/15, was for the pilot program.) A separate notice defers effectiveness of the final packaging rule to October 1, 2015 rather than July 28. Contact Brooke Baumann, RD, 202-690-4250.
NEW COMMENTS INVITED ON EMERGENCY SOLUTIONS GRANTS. HUD requests comments by August 3 on the ESG interim rule published December 5, 2011 (see HAC News, 12/14/11). Contact Norm Suchar, HUD, 202-708-4300.
HUD CONSIDERS SMALL AREA FMRS. HUD requests comments by July 2 on the use of small area FMRs for the Housing Choice Voucher program in some metro areas. Small areas FMRs vary by ZIP code and support a greater range of payment standards than can be achieved under existing regulations. Contact Marie L. Lihn, HUD, 202-402-5866.
MEETINGS SET ON SECTION 538 GUARANTEES. USDA will discuss the rental guarantee program with stakeholders. To register for email notices when calls or web meetings are scheduled, contact Monica Cole, 202-720-1251.
PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES RECEIVING SSI CANNOT AFFORD HOUSING. Priced Out in 2014, released by the Technical Assistance Collaborative and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Housing Task Force, reports that the national average rent for a one-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent is greater than the entire Supplemental Security Income payment of a person with a disability. Data are provided for states, metro areas, and the total nonmetro part of each state.
MATERIALS AVAILABLE ON AFFIRMATIVELY FURTHERING FAIR HOUSING RULE. Anticipating a final AFFH regulation soon, the National Fair Housing Alliance has compiled links to information about the proposed rule. NFHA and The Opportunity Agenda also offer suggestions for talking about AFFH and fair housing with a range of audiences.
CFPB CONSUMER ADVISORY WARNS ABOUT REVERSE MORTGAGE ADVERTISING. Ads targeting senior homeowners can be misleading, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says. The agency’s website provides facts and a guide.
AMERICANS BELIEVE HOUSING CRISIS ONGOING, MANY STILL ASPIRE TO HOMEOWNERSHIP. The 2015 How Housing Matters survey for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation also found 80% believe housing affordability is a problem, a majority (55%) believe the federal government is more involved in housing-related issues today than in the past two decades, and most (53%) say that addressing housing affordability is not its responsibility (39% say it is.)