The Senate and the House of Representatives are both set to debate their fiscal 2014 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Related Agencies spending plans this week.
The House bill (H.R. 2610) would provide significantly less money for federal housing programs than the Senate proposal (S. 1243). For example, the House plan calls for Community Development Block Grants to be funded at $1.6 billion next year, just half of what is proposed in the Senate bill. It is similar picture for the HOME program, which would receive $700 million under the House plan compared to $1 billion under the Senate proposal.
Tenant-based rental assistance, project-based rental assistance, and the public housing operating fund all receive less money under H.R. 2610.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) this week urged her colleagues to support the Senate plan.
“It is a bill that will help us rebuild our crumbling infrastructure,” she said. “It is a bill that helps us meet the housing needs of homeless veterans, of disabled senior citizens, of very low income families. It is a bill that will help the private sector create thousands of new jobs at a time when our economy really needs them.”
Collins said the bill should proceed to a conference committee to work out the differences with the House bill. “The differences are marked,” she said. “I don’t minimize the differences in terms of priorities and funding, but that’s what conference is all about.”
While the Senate bill provides more money for HUD, several amendments were recently offered that would reduce funding or make changes to key housing programs. These amendments include:
- No. 1758 by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) would cut Community Development Block Grant funding from the THUD level of $3.15 billion to $2.798 billion;
- No. 1754, also by Coburn, seeks to exclude federal funds from being counted as matching funds for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants; and
- No. 1768 by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) would cut HOME funding from $1 billion to $950 million.
Housing advocates have been urging supporters to call their representatives to oppose the House bill and the Senate amendments.