“We are open today,” declared the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website on Oct. 17.
In a video, Secretary Shaun Donovan welcomed employees back from the government shutdown. “I want you to know that your work here at HUD is valued,” he said. “It’s important. It’s necessary.”
HUD and other federal workers were back on the job after a 16-day standoff ended when President Obama signed a spending and debt ceiling agreement passed by Congress. However, the compromise may only be temporary as more negotiations will take place in the weeks ahead. The continued resolution to fund the federal government will expire again Jan. 15, and country will approach the debt ceiling if it's not raised again by Feb. 7.
HUD operations were at a minimum during the shutdown, creating uncertainty for a number of program users.
During the shutdown, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) still worked to close on multifamily deals that had firm commitments with scheduled closings and final endorsements with critical external deadlines. However, loans near the end of the FHA process that are waiting for their firm commitment to schedule a closing date faced delays.
The shutdown also eroded the efforts of public housing and redevelopment authorities to meet ongoing housing and community development needs in their communities, said the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) in a statement. NAHRO also cited cuts in federal spending during the last several years.
The association joined other groups in urging federal leaders to end the shutdown and negotiate a responsible 2014 budget resolution.
“The deal crafted by Senate leadership does appear to take the initial steps toward this process, but, it is only a short-term solution that leaves housing and redevelopment authorities wondering if the nation will be facing another fiscal crisis in January,” said the organization. “NAHRO is optimistic, however, that the plan to bring together the House and Senate to a conference committee on the budget will provide desperately-needed budgetary relief to housing programs that have been cut so drastically in recent years.”
Housing officials are urging Congress to remember the housing needs of low-income families as it moves forward.
The Bipartisan Policy Center also applauded the actions to reopen the government but noted that it wasn't the end of the story.
"While yesterday's votes signal a step in the right direction, there is much left to do," said President Jason Grumet in a statement. "We encourage members of both parties to seek a balanced agreement on deficit reduction and to resolve the sequester. The stage is now set for Congress to enact a more pro-growth federal tax system that raises revenues and to consider significant structural changes to Medicare, federal health care and other government spending programs."