While positive in many ways, the Administration’s 2017 budget request still falls short due to larger budget constraints, despite increased dollars proposed for the homeless which are badly needed and which NAHRO supports. While we recognize the ongoing need to continue the effort to get the nation’s fiscal house in order, we believe that providing a decent and affordable home in a neighborhood of quality for every American family is fundamental to who we are as a nation. NAHRO believes that the bipartisan effort to pass long-overdue housing reforms in HR 3700 by a House vote of 427-0 should also embolden the Congress, in a bipartisan manner, to provide a responsible level of funding for housing and community development programs in FY 2017. The need for these funds is well-documented; they will help many more low- and very-low-income families who need a safe, decent place to call home now!
The Section 8 program looks to be a bright spot in the President’s FY 2017 budget. The budget fully funds Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) renewals and provides $2.1 billion in administrative fees to enable PHAs to administer the HCV program. In addition, $88 million will be specifically provided under this budget to assist families with children who are experiencing homelessness, which is a necessary and encouraging development. Unfortunately, however, funding for the Public Housing Capital Fund is proposed at $1.865 billion, a decrease from FY 2016. NAHRO believes that this is a significant step in the wrong direction, considering the immense size of the capital needs backlog and our inability to fund annually accruing capital needs. The budget increases the Public Housing Operating fund slightly at $4.569 billion, which HUD estimates indicate would be 87 percent of PHA’s anticipated formula eligibility. This is still well below what is required and excludes the $212 million HUD will transfer to the Tenant-Based or Project-Based Rental Assistance accounts in support of public housing Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) conversions. As in prior years, the President’s budget proposes a capital replacement reserve which NAHRO strongly supports and provides $5 million in Capital Fund dollars for the new ConnectHome Initiative, which would increase broadband access in public housing properties. NAHRO supports this initiative but believes funding for it should not result in a further loss of Capital Fund dollars through set-asides. Funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program is proposed at $2.8 billion ($200 million below FY 2016 enacted). The Administration also continues to recommend a number of legislative CDBG program reforms, including a proposal to reduce the number of small CDBG grantees, which is opposed by NAHRO. The HOME Investment Partnerships program is once again underfunded compared to the well documented need for the program at $950 million (level).
NAHRO will continue to advocate for responsibly funded programs at HUD that address long-standing needs.