In mid-April, the Obama administration released its 2014 budget. MHP reported that while the budget was focused solely on renewing, rather than creating, affordable housing, we were nonetheless pleased that the administration recognized the need, for the most part, to keep families in stable housing. Unfortunately, the House Committee on Appropriations recently took a very different route, one that could lead to severe housing shortages and homelessness across the country.
On May 21, the House Committee on Appropriations reported out its funding for year 2014, which deeply cut the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Subcommittee funding allocation compared to 2013 levels. The THUD Subcommittee is responsible for funding HUD, which in turn funds several important housing programs.
The 2014 THUD funding level is cut by 9% compared to the 2013 post-sequestration level, which was already significantly lower than that of previous years (there was a 24% cut in THUD funding between 2010 and 2013).
The House, in its 2014 concurrent budget resolution, set its top line discretionary spending at $967 billion, which is below the threshold of the Budget Control Act. This self-imposed lower cap means that there was less money to allocate to the numerous subcommittees responsible for funding federal agencies, including HUD.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported in April that 140,000 low income families nationwide could be denied rental assistance in 2013 due to the effects of sequestration. This is in addition to other ongoing issues facing housing programs, including deteriorating public housing stock and cuts in homeless assistance. The recently reported House 2014 THUD funding means that housing conditions will only continue to get worse and many more families will face homelessness unless a more balanced budget is agreed upon by lawmakers.
The Senate Committee on Appropriations is expected to announce its 2014 funding allocations soon. It will use the Budget Control Act threshold of $1.058 trillion in discretionary spending. It is diverging from the House's lower threshold under the assumption that sequestration will be canceled or replaced with alternative deficit reduction measures.
This gap between the House and Senate funding levels would usually be reconciled by a Congressional conference committee, but it is believed that both chambers are going to move forward with appropriations due to a lack of agreement on how to proceed with diverging budget levels.