|Congress has released the text of the omnibus spending bill and the tax extenders package. The omnibus funds all 12 appropriations bills, including the T-HUD and USDA bills, for FY16. The House and Senate are expected to vote on the omnibus and the tax extenders package by the end of this week.
Included in the omnibus and tax extenders bills are several potential victories for housing advocates:
HOME: The HOME program, cut by almost 93% in a prior version coming from the Senate Appropriations Committee, was restored to a level of $950 million. This will likely keep New Hampshire’s HOME program running at the small state minimum level of $3 million. Both Senator Shaheen and Governor Hassan assisted with HOME advocacy. Senator Shaheen had cosponsored an amendment to restore HOME funds and Governor Hassan signed a letter with five other New England Governors calling for strong support for HOME.
Homeless Assistance Grants: The omnibus increases Homeless Assistance Grants from FY15’s $2.135B to $2.250B.
Housing Tax Credit: The tax extenders package would permanently extend the minimum 9 percent credit rate (and make it retroactive to January 1, 2015) for new construction and substantial rehabilitation using the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program (LIHTC). The permanent minimum 9 percent rate is considered a major victory, as it is expected to strengthen the Housing Credit by simplifying program administration and allowing states to allocate more Housing Credit equity into individual developments. The bill does not, however, establish a minimum 4 percent credit rate for acquisition that housing advocates had requested.
Public Housing Operating and Capital Funds: The package includes small increases for public housing authorities.
National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF): No NHTF funds are raided in the omnibus. A prior House proposal would have raided 100% of the NHTF’s funds in 2016 and used them to fund the HOME program. If the omnibus is passed, the National Housing Trust Fund will be on track to deliver its first resources to states in 2016 for the production, preservation, and operation of predominantly affordable rental housing for extremely low income households.
USDA Rural Development: Within USDA’s Rural Development appropriations, the omnibus would provide $1.38 billion for Section 521 Rental Assistance, a significant increase compared to FY15’s $1.167 billion, which proved significantly insufficient to meet FY15’s renewal needs. The omnibus bill would also increase funds for the rural housing voucher program.
New VASH Vouchers: The spending package includes new rental assistance vouchers for veterans, a key tool needed to end veterans’ homelessness.
Housing Action NH calls on the NH Congressional delegation to support passage of the omnibus and tax extenders bills.
We will update you on any further developments.