Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee released on October 22 a report calling for the streamlining of “duplicative” HUD housing programs. The report proposes “merging programs,” claiming that doing so would extend funding for housing programs and ultimately serve more people.
The report’s analysis, however, ignores meaningful differences in HUD housing programs that alter who the program is able to serve. For example, the report claims the HOME Investments Partnership Program (HOME) and National Housing Trust Fund (HTF) are “overlapping programs that should be consolidated or streamlined,” but omits the fact HTF better serves extremely low-income people – those earning less than 30% of area median income (AMI) – by more deeply targeting resources.
Under the HTF, 75% of funds for rental housing must go to extremely low-income households, while the HOME program specifies 90% of rental units constructed with HOME funding must serve households with incomes at or below 60% AMI. Ninety percent of HTF allocations must be used for deeply affordable rental housing, while HOME does not have any such restrictions – a state or local government could devote 100% of HOME resources to helping people earning 80% of AMI purchase a home. Additionally, while HOME is funded through appropriations, the HTF is funded through a dedicated source of revenue on mandatory federal spending and is therefore not subject to the annual appropriations process.
NLIHC’s President and CEO Diane Yentel testified at the Senate Budget Committee Roundtable on Federal Housing Assistance Programs in September (see Memo, 9/21). When asked by Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) about the consolidation of federal programs, Diane cited the mortgage interest deduction –75% of which has been used to help higher-income people purchase a home – as an example of poor alignment, and noted that “scarce federal resources should be targeted towards those with the greatest needs. When it comes to housing, it is very clear the greatest needs exist among the lowest-income people – extremely low-income people and people experiencing homelessness. So, the more we can realign federal housing programs to meet the needs of those low-income renters, the better the federal dollars will be used.”
Read Diane Yentel’s testimony before the Budget Committee at: https://tinyurl.com/y5jggeyy
View the Senate GOP’s report at: https://tinyurl.com/yxjphxjo