After three weeks of infighting, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives coalesced around Representative Mike Johnson (R-LA), electing him as the new Speaker of the House on October 25. With a Speaker in place, the House can resume consideration of its fiscal year (FY) 2024 appropriations bills. Congress has until November 17 – when government funding expires – either to pass all 12 annual spending bills or enact another continuing resolution (CR) to extend current levels of federal funding. If Congress fails to pass the funding bills or enact a CR, the federal government will be forced into a partial shutdown.
In advance of his election, Speaker Johnson released an ambitious timeline for passing the remaining eight FY24 appropriations bills through the House, including consideration of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) bill this week. The House bill provides a $6.4 billion increase over FY23-enacted funding, proposing deep cuts to and even the elimination of some HUD programs but increasing funding for most rental assistance programs. In addition to the underlying THUD bill, the House will also consider several amendments that would further slash investments in affordable housing and harm households with the lowest incomes (see Memo, 10/16).
The Senate began consideration of a three-bill “minibus” appropriations package, including an FY24 spending bill for THUD, on October 24. Despite austere spending caps agreed to by President Biden and congressional leaders earlier this year, the Senate THUD bill would provide significant new investments in affordable housing, increasing HUD funding by $8.26 billion over FY23 levels. Senators are expected to finish voting on amendments and hold a final vote on the “minibus” this week.
Even with FY24 THUD bills voted out of each chamber, the House and Senate will still need to work together to reach a final agreement on spending levels for FY24. Because of the drastic increase in the cost of rent over the last year, funding provided for Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) contract renewals in both the House and Senate draft bills is not expected to cover the full cost of renewals. According to an analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), funding for renewals in the Senate bill would still result in an estimated 6,000 vouchers being lost to turnover; in the House, an estimated 40,000 vouchers would be lost.
Advocates must keep urging their members of Congress to oppose any amendments to the FY24 spending bills that would cut funding to HUD programs; impose needless barriers to accessing HUD assistance; or restrict funding for evidence-based solutions to homelessness, like Housing First.
As the appropriations process continues and House and Senate leaders meet to finalize an FY24 spending agreement, it will be crucial to ensure HUD’s vital affordable housing and homelessness programs receive the highest funding possible – including sufficient funding to renewal all existing rental assistance contracts. At current funding levels, only one in four households eligible for rental assistance receives it; any drop in available vouchers will mean even fewer people receive the help they need to find and maintain safe, stable housing.
Keep making your voices heard! Tell Congress that it cannot balance the federal budget at the expense of people with the lowest incomes! Advocates can take action TODAY in the following ways:
- Contact your senators and representatives to urge them to expand – not cut – investments in affordable, accessible homes through the FY24 spending bill, including NLIHC’s top priorities:
- Full funding to renew all existing contracts for the Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) and Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) programs.
- Full funding for public housing operations and repairs.
- The Senate’s proposed funding for Homeless Assistance Grants.
- Protecting $20 million in funding for legal assistance to prevent evictions in the Senate bill.
- The House’s proposed funding for Native housing.
- Contact your senators and representatives and tell them to vote for any amendments to increase funding to HUD’s affordable housing or homelessness programs, and against any harmful amendments to the FY24 spending bill that would slash funding to HUD, impose needless barriers to access, or restrict the use of funds for equity initiatives.
- Join over 2,100 organizations by signing on to a national letter from the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding (CHCDF), calling on Congress to oppose budget cuts and instead to support the highest level of funding possible for affordable housing, homelessness, and community development resources in FY24.