by Linda Couch, LeadingAge
Unable to reach a deal on a four-bill appropriations package, Congress has passed a continuing resolution to keep HUD and some other federal programs funded through December 7. While Congress is poised to enact five of the 12 annual appropriations bills before the October 1 start of fiscal year 2019, the HUD bill is not among these. The President signed the continuing resolution on September 28.
While there are not massive differences between the Senate and House HUD appropriations bills, the Senate bill would fund HUD’s programs about $800 million more funding for HUD than the House bill would for fiscal year 2019.
For the Section 202 program, the bills provide the same overall funding, $678 million, but the Senate bill would provide $51 million for new Section 202 construction versus the $46 million provided by the Senate bill. The Senate bill also includes $10 million for a new home modification program within the Section 202 account. This program would be aimed at helping low income seniors age in place and would be carried out by nonprofits and public housing agencies. Also in the Section 202 account, both bills would provide level funding, $90 million, for Service Coordinators.
Bill bills also provide equal amounts for the renewal of all Project-Based Rental Assistance contracts, $11.747 billion, which is expected to be sufficient to fully renew these contracts. Project-Based Rental Assistance contracts provide the ongoing operating subsidy for two-thirds of Section 202 communities and are a critical lifeline for these homes.
The HUD bill is in a package of spending bills along with the Agriculture, Financial Services and General Government, and Interior appropriations bills. The sticking points that led to a continuing resolution until December 7, instead of a final fiscal year 2019 bill, are not related to HUD programs or policies.
While it is possible Congress will swiftly take up the remaining spending bills after the November elections, there is skepticism that Congress will enact appropriations bills in a “lame duck” session before the new 116th Congress is installed in January 2019.
To ward off delays in funding that can come with multiple continuing resolutions, LeadingAge will continue to urge Congress to enact a final fiscal year 2019 HUD appropriations bill as quickly as possible. A recent LeadingAge action alert describes how members and other stakeholders can join us in our advocacy efforts.