Call to Action
CALL TO ACTION
HUD Spending Bill in Final Stage
Call your House and Senate offices now to demand adequate funding for all HUD housing and community development programs!
House and Senate staff are working through the differences this week in an attempt to have final language for next week���s lame duck session of Congress.
The House and Senate bills differ greatly. The House bill cuts every housing and community development program (public housing, homeless assistance, fair housing, CDBG, HOME, etc.) except for the Section 8 project- and tenant-based programs. And, the House bill leaves the window wide open for continuation of HUD���s harmful Section 8 voucher spending mechanisms, which have been in place since April 22.
The Senate bill provides adequate funding for Section 8 vouchers and project-based housing and provides for small increases in most housing and community development programs. Regarding HUD���s distribution of voucher funding, the Senate bill is a marked improvement over the April 22 HUD notice and over the House bill. While the Senate bill might benefit from some improvement, advocates should be asking for it rather than the House bill.
The Senate bill does include a terrible provision: Section 224 prohibits the use of federal funds by public housing authorities to do a range of voter registration and get-out-the-vote activities. Advocates should ask that this section be removed.
The White House is pushing for all remaining appropriations bills to be completed by November 20, when the current continuing resolution runs out. The White House and the House are also seeking to decrease what they see as budget gimmickry in the Senate bill (e.g., designating some spending as ���emergency��� and thereby removing it from the bill���s spending cap). All of this puts pressure on an already inadequate funding level for the bill overall, which also includes spending for VA health care and NASA ��� two big priorities of the White House and others. HUD programs need support now.
CALL IMMEDIATELY IN SUPPORT OF PROTECTING SECTION 8 Congress recessed in early October without completing 9 of the 13 appropriations spending bills for FY 2005. When they reconvene the week of November 16 they will vote on an omnibus fiscal 2005 appropriations package that includes all nine bills which fund Section 8, WIC (see below) and other low-income programs. Unless Congress approves strong language which will assure that HUD distributes Section 8 funding in a prompt and reliable manner, there is a serious risk that low-income families will be cut from the Section 8 program.
The Senate-passed VA-HUD appropriations bill (S. 2825) is preferable to the House-passed bill (H.R. 5041) because it restores nearly full funding for vouchers without cutting other housing programs. In 2004, HUD distributed Section 8 money to housing agencies in a way
that underfunded some agencies and consequently forced them to cut voucher assistance. The House bill would allow HUD to continue funding policies that force cuts. The Senate bill instructs HUD to provide additional funding to state and local agencies whose voucher costs are rising because of changes in local rents, utility costs, or family incomes, but the language is not sufficiently firm and clear to ensure that HUD would actually distribute the funding in a prompt and reliable manner.
Key decision-makers regarding HUD funding in the omnibus appropriations bill are VA-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee Chairmen Senator Christopher Bond (R-MO) and Representative James Walsh (R-NY).
Call your House and Senate offices with the following message on the 2005 HUD spending bill:
HUD, public housing, and Section 8 programs are critical for low-income families
in my area.
Support increases, at least equal to those in the Senate bill, for public housing, homeless assistance, fair housing, CDBG, HOME, Section 202 housing for the elderly and Section 811 housing for persons with disabilities.
Support adequate funding to renew all project- and tenant-based vouchers.
Include strong language that will ensure that HUD funds all authorized Section 8 vouchers.
Urge for the removal of Section 224 from the Senate bill.
You can reach all offices by calling the Capitol Switchboard tollfree at 1-888-818-6641. Central New Yorkers should call Representative Walsh and Boehlert and ask to speak to their staff person who works on housing issues. Please also call Senator Schumer and Clinton���s offices. Thank you very much.
CDBG = Community Block Grant Program ��� one of the oldest HUD programs.
HOME = the largest Federal Block Grant to State and local governments designed exclusively to create affordable housing for low-income households.The funding problem alluded to above is the switch from HUD funding all vouchers currently in use at their real value to HUD using budget based funding in which HUD sets funding levels for individual PHAs [Public Housing Authorities] and does not require that there be any link between the funding level and the number of vouchers that are in use or the actual cost of vouchers.John Furman
Utica Citizens in Action
P.O. Box 411
Utica, New York 13503-0411
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