Nothing has come easy for the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF).

This time, an effort to undo the long-awaited program comes in the fiscal 2016 spending plan from the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD). The THUD budget calls for the funding aimed for the NHTF to be diverted into the HOME program. It also prohibits other sources being used to capitalize the Trust Fund.

The legislation includes an overall $42 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and would be significantly lower in several key areas than President Obama’s request. The THUD bill would:

·         Cut HOME funding to $767 million, down from $900 million in fiscal 2015. The White House request seeks $1.06 billion;

·         Cut Choice Neighborhoods Initiative funding to $20 million, down from $80 million. President Obama is requesting $250 million;

·         Cut the public housing capital fund to $1.68 billion, down from $1.88 billion in fiscal 2015. The president’s request is for $1.97 billion;

·         Increase funding for homeless assistance grants to $2.19 billion, up from $2.14 billion in fiscal 2015. However, it’s below the $2.48 billion proposed in the president’s request;

·         Increase project-based rental assistance (PBRA) to $10.65 billion, from $9.73 billion in fiscal 2015. However, it is lower than the president’s request for $10.76 billion; and

·         Increase tenant-based rental assistance to $19.9 billion, from $19.3 billion in fiscal 2015. The administration requests $21.1 billion.

Even though the bill increases support for the rental assistance programs, advocates say the funding levels are still below what is needed.

Affordable housing advocates will also be fighting for the NHTF.

The NHTF was established under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, which was signed by President George W. Bush. It was supposed to be capitalized with contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but the government-sponsored enterprises were placed into conservatorship in September 2008 during the housing crisis and payments to the fund were suspended.  

However, in December, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to begin setting aside and allocating funds to the NHTF as well as the Capital Magnet Fund.

Advocates have estimated that $400 million to $500 million may be raised, with 65% going to the NHTF and 35% to the Capital Magnet Fund. Funds would be allocated to states in the summer of 2016.

The Trust Fund is the first new federal funding in a generation that is targeted to expand the supply of rental housing for extremely low-income households, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC).

“The House THUD bill released expresses a callous disregard for the plight of millions of Americans who labor in the low-wage workforce and still cannot find modest housing they can afford to rent,” said Sheila Crowley, president and CEO of the NLIHC, in a statement. “It ignores the shortage of affordable housing for poor seniors and people with disabilities. A U.S. House of Representatives that could pass a bill like this while cutting taxes for corporations and wealthy people is one that is out of touch with the American people want from their government.”