Recent updates on legislative actions (as of January 21, 2020):
Before the holiday break, Congress approved a final fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations bill with the president signing the legislation into law on December 20. The $1.4 trillion package includes funding levels for the following U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Community Planning and Development programs:
- Community Development Block Grant (CDBG): $3.425 billion, $125 million above FY19 (COSCDA’s FY20 request: $3.8 billion)
- HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME): $1.35 billion, $100 million above FY19 (COSCDA’s FY20 request: $1.8 billion)
- Homeless Assistance Grants : $2.777 billion, $141 million above FY19 (COSCDA’s FY20 request: $3 billion)
FY2020 funding has yet to be announced for the Housing Trust Fund; the program received $247 million in FY2019. Available funds are determined by an annual assessment of 4.2 basis points from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Within the $3.425 billion dedicated to CDBG, $25 million is reserved for a recovery housing pilot program as a part of the federal response to the opioid crisis. The five-year pilot was established in the 2018 SUPPORT Act. Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia are eligible to receive funds based on a formula allocation announced by HUD in April 2019. The legislation establishes states as funding grantees.
For HOME, the legislation suspends a 24-month commitment deadline set by statute.
Under Homeless Assistance, $290 million is reserved for Emergency Shelter Grants and $2.35 billion is dedicated to the Continuum of Care and Rural Housing Stability Assistance programs. Funding is also available to support Rapid Re-Housing for Victims of Domestic Violence ($50 million), National Homeless Data Analysis ($7 million), and Youth Homeless Demonstration ($80 million – of this, $10 million is reserved for technical assistance).
COSCDA is underway in determining advocacy priorities for FY2021 including recommended spending levels for Community Planning and Development programs. COSCDA’s final FY21 priorities will be available in February.
The release of the president’s annual budget initiates the fiscal year appropriations process. As directed by Congress, the budget is released by the first Monday in February; it is often delayed and made available in weeks after this date. Since taking office in 2017, the president has proposed elimination of both CDBG and HOME citing state and local governments as better positioned to address community development and affordable housing issues; Homeless Assistance programs though have been maintained in the budget. The president’s FY21 budget is expected to continue this trend to eliminate CDBG and HOME while preserving Homeless Assistance programs.
Once the president’s budget is received, Congress determines policies and procedures to establish the annual appropriations process. Last year, Congress reached a for FY20 and 21 which was signed into law in August 2019. The budget deal sets top-line spending numbers for discretionary programs above scheduled limits determined by 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA). Non-defense programs are approved under the deal for $626.5 billion in FY21, an increase of $71.6 billion over the BCA limit. The BCA ends after FY2021; Congress has suspended BCA’s budget limits each year since the law’s enactment. For more details on the budget process, click here for an overview by The Washington Post.
The fiscal year begins on October 1. Appropriators will need to approve a final spending bill before this date, or extend funding under the current year levels, to avoid a federal shutdown.
Ahead of FY2021, COSCDA will join with national stakeholder groups to support adequate resources for Community Planning and Development programs. A focus of advocacy efforts for CDBG and HOME is National Community Development Week, scheduled April 13 – 18; details will be available soon. COSCDA members are encouraged to participate by showcasing how CDBG and HOME makes a difference in your state.
Reforming Disaster Recovery Act of 2019
In July 2019, the Reforming Disaster Recovery Act of 2019 was introduced to permanently authorize the CDBG-Disaster Recovery program (CDBG-DR). The bill would also insert measures to improve expediency and accountability of federal resources. At the core of the program’s challenges are cumbersome administrative procedures which have delayed funds to impacted areas and impeded long-term recovery efforts.
The House version was approved with bi-partisan support on November 18. The vote was 290-118. Bill text is available here.
Two similar bills have been introduced in the Senate which would also codify CDBG-DR. Sens. Todd Young (IN) and Brian Schatz (HI) are co-sponsoring their version of the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2019. A key difference with the legislation from the House version is a provision establishing an office within HUD to lead recovery and resiliency efforts. Sens. Tom Tillis and Richard Burr (NC) are also co-sponsoring the Ensuring Disaster Recovery for Local Communities Act of 2019. The bill proposes allowing local governments and tribes to directly administer disaster aid with HUD.
COSCDA recently established a subcommittee on disaster recovery. The subcommittee is considering how the reform legislation will impact state administration of CDBG-DR and will develop recommendations in response to proposed reforms. The priorities will shared with COSCDA membership once available.
Affordable Housing is Infrastructure Act of 2019
The Affordable Housing is Infrastructure Act of 2019 authorizes funding to increase the number of affordable housing units nationwide. The bill authorizes $70 billion for the Public Housing Capital Fund to address backlog of repairs while reinforcing various other programs under HUD and USDA.
The bill also authorizes $10 billion for CDBG to establish a competitive grant program for affordable housing and Department of Transportation-linked projects. The bill sets up a grant competition with states, localities, and tribes eligible to receive funds. Grants would be awarded based upon the state or local applicant’s recent adoption of policies to promote affordable housing such as the elimination of so-called impact fees on new housing construction.
Additionally, the legislation authorizes $5 billion for both HOME and HTF.
Bill text can be found here and a summary is available here. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Maxine Waters, Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee. Sen. Kamala Harris introduced a companion bill in the upper chamber.
COSCDA joined with national stakeholders to submit comments on the bill’s impact. Members of the CDBG Coalition sent a letter to Chairwoman Waters in response to including the program in the legislation. In the letter, members of the coalition express support for including CDBG in the legislation to advance affordable housing units. However, the group argues that the insertion of a competitive grant program as well as emphasis on DOT-funded projects complicates the reach of funds to housing needs. Instead, it is proposed that additional resources be applied through the CDBG formula program. The letter is available here.
The HOME Coalition also submitted feedback in support of including HOME in the legislation; the coalition was successful as HOME was featured in the latest bill.
COSCDA has endorsed the legislation and will follow-up with congressional offices to provide additional comments.
Ending Homelessness Act of 2019
The Ending Homelessness Act of 2019 applies $13.27 billion across emergency relief grants, vouchers, outreach services, and technical assistance. Additionally, included in this amount is $1 billion applied annually to the Housing Trust Fund. Bill text is available here.
Sen. Kamala Harris has introduced a similar bill in the Senate.
HOME Act of 2019
The Housing, Opportunity, Mobility, and Equity Act of 2019 (HOME Act) was introduced by Rep. James Clyburn, House Majority Whip, in October 2019. The legislation would direct CDBG and Surface Transportation Block Grant recipients to create plans to increase the affordable housing stock through inclusive zoning policies. The bill would also establish a credit for low-income renters to better access quality housing.
Bill text is available here. A companion bill was introduced in the upper chamber by Sen. Cory Booker.
COSCDA shared comments with co-sponsors on January 13. Click here for the letter.
The Yes in My Backyard Act (YIMBY Act) would require CDBG grantees to report on land use policies with emphasis on addressing affordable housing needs. Grantees would need to provide an update over a five-year basis.
Bill text is available here. In the House, the legislation is being co-sponsored by Reps. Heck (WA), Hollingsworth (IN), Clay (MO), Foxx (NC), Quigley (IL), and Herrera Beutler (WA). The Senate version is being co-sponsored by Sens. Todd Young (IN) and Brian Schatz (HI).
COSCDA sent a letter to co-sponsors on January 13. The letter is available here.