Thousands more low-income renters nationwide will have affordable homes if new voucher funding is passed for next year’s budget.
Most affordable housing programs saw increased funding in the Fiscal Year 2022 HUD spending bill passed by the House of Representatives this month.
The House approved $56.5 billion for HUD in FY 2022. This is $314 million less than President Biden requested in his first budget. However, this is $6.8 billion more than in FY 2021.
The bill’s most immediate benefit to low-income renters is the addition of 125,000 new tenant-based rental assistance vouchers. The new vouchers are included in the $29.2 billion allocated for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA). This is enough funding to renew all current vouchers, plus fund the new vouchers to help many more low-income families afford decent apartments.
The House spending bill provides only a little more than half of the 200,000 President Biden requested in his FY 2022 budget. If it passes, though, it will still be a major step toward making rental assistance available to everyone who qualifies.
What comes next for FY 2022 spending?
The Senate has not yet taken up appropriations bills for next fiscal year. The Senate will start working on appropriations in September after they return from August recess.
The Senate may agree to program levels that are lower or higher than proposed in the House bill, but they tend to be close to the House amounts each year. Once the Senate approves its spending packages, the House and Senate will resolve differences between the bills in what is called a conference committee.
The Senate will have a lot to do in a short amount of time. Senators will need to complete work on 12 spending bills to keep the government open after the end of the federal fiscal year on September 30. It is not likely that they will finish all 12 bills in that time.
If the Senate does not get all the FY 2022 spending bills passed before the end of September, Congress will likely approve a continuing resolution (CR). A CR funds government programs just below the current year’s levels. This makes sure that essential services continue while Congress continues its spending negotiations.
If the CR is for a short period of time, it will have only a limited impact on affordable housing programs. If Congress passes a longer CR, like until the end of December, it would not be good for low-income renters.
Because a CR only funds programs currently operating, new programs cannot start up. Instead of increased funding to match inflation or serve more renters, programs have to cut back because they are operating at reduced funding levels. Some grant programs may delay funding competitions because they cannot be sure there will be enough money available by the time awards are made.
What other funds are on the bill?
The House FY 2022 spending bill also includes increased funding to address homelessness, community development, fair housing enforcement, and other critical housing needs. More than 100,000 new vouchers, though, will provide immediate housing relief to desperate renters around the country.
It will be important for low-income renters to push their Senators for more vouchers when they get back to work in September.