On July 10, the House Appropriations Committee introduced its version of the fiscal year 2018 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development spending bill. The bill includes funding for the Department of Transportation (USDOT), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and other related agencies. In total, the bill reflects an allocation of $56.5 billion in discretionary spending — $1.1 billion below fiscal year 2017 levels and $8.6 billion above the President’s request.
While the bill rejects many of the Trump Administration’s requested cuts, it dramatically reduces or eliminates important programs like HUD’s Choice Neighborhood Program and USDOT’s TIGER program. Overall, the bill significantly underfunds and cuts federal housing and transportation programs that serve the most vulnerable populations and communities. These low funding levels do not provide what is needed to maintain program levels and ensure that every household currently receiving housing assistance can remain in their homes.
Here’s what the bill contains for smart growth-related programs:
Department of Housing and Urban Development
The bill provides net appropriations of $38.3 billion for HUD, $487 million below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $6.9 billion above the President’s request. This funding level is approximately $1.5 billion less than what is needed to renew HUD’s rental assistance funding needs during fiscal year 2018.
- The Office of Public and Indian Housing, which is designed to help residents of affordable housing become more self-sufficient and economically independent, is funded at $27.5 billion, $16 million below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level, and $1.87 billion less than the President’s request.
- Though the bill doesn’t eliminate the Choice Neighborhoods Program as requested by the Administration, it does make significant cuts. The bill provides only $20 million, $118 million below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level. The Choice Neighborhoods Program is a proven program that provides support for struggling neighborhoods and comprehensively revitalizes high-poverty public and assisted housing communities.
- The Self-Help and Assisted Homeownership Opportunity Program, the only program administered by HUD that supports homeownership opportunities for low-income families, is funded at $10 million, which is equal to the level provided in fiscal year 2017.
- Homeless Assistance Grants, including the Emergency Solutions Grants program, the Continuum of Care program, and the Rural Housing Stability Assistance program, are funded at $2.4 billion, which is equal to the level provided in fiscal year 2017.
- Other housing programs within the bill that ensure assistance is provided to the nation’s most vulnerable citizens, are funded at $11.9 billion, $326.4 million above the fiscal year 2017 enacted level. This includes $11.1 billion for the Project-Based Rental Assistance Program – $266 million above the fiscal year 2017 enacted level; $573 million for the Housing for the Elderly (Section 202) program – $70.6 million above the current level; $147 million for the Housing for Persons with Disabilities (Section 811) program – an increase of $800,000 above the current level; and $50 million for the Housing Counseling Assistance program, $5 million below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level. The Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program, the only federal program dedicated to the housing needs of people living with HIV/AIDS, is funded at $356 million – equal to fiscal year 2017 enacted level, and $26 million more than the President’s request.
Community Planning and Development
The bill contains $6.6 billion for Community Planning and Development programs – $209 million below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level.
- The Community Development Block Grants program, a flexible funding program that provides communities with resources to address a wide range of development needs, is not eliminated as proposed by the President’s request. However, the bill cuts $100 million from the program, providing only $2.9 billion for CDBG.
- The bill reduces funding for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME), which provides block grants to states and localities to expand affordable housing. HOME is funded at $850 million, $100 million below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level.
The bill includes a net discretionary total of $17.8 billion in appropriations for USDOT for fiscal year 2018. This is $646 million below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $1.5 billion above the President’s request.
- The bill eliminates funding for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants program, which funds competitive grants for state and local road, transit, port, and railroad construction projects. TIGER was funded at $500 million in fiscal year 2017.
- The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is funded at $2.2 billion, $360 million over the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $1.1 billion above the President’s request. The bill provides a total of $1.4 billion for Amtrak, of which $1.1 billion is to support the National Network, which is consistent with the FAST Act authorized amount, and $328 million is for the Northeast Corridor grants, which is a decrease from the $515 million authorized amount in the FAST Act.
- The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is funded at $11.75 billion, $662 million below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $526 million above the President’s request. Within this amount, the Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program, responsible for funding major transit capital investments, including rapid rail, light rail, bus rapid transit, commuter rail, and ferries, is funded at $1.75 billion – $660 million less than fiscal year 2017 funding level; and $1 billion for “Full Funding Grant Agreement” (FFGA) transit projects. $1.01 billion is set-aside for New Starts projects that have full funding grant agreements (FFGAs), $145.7 million for Core Capacity Improvement projects, $182 million to fund all state and local “Small Starts” projects, and $400 million for new projects that provide both public transportation and inner-city passenger rail service.
The bill is scheduled for consideration by the full House Appropriations Committee on July 17, and may move forward to the House floor after that. Congress is not expected to pass any of the fiscal year 2018 appropriation bills before the fiscal year begins on October 1. LOCUS encourages our members to reach out to their representatives to ensure federal funding is maintained for key programs that communities and local economies rely on.