Seth Embry, PHADA Policy Analyst
After months of planning, drafting, and negotiating, the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations unveiled a FY 20 government spending bill on December 16, 2019. The release of the text came four days before authority for the government to spend money was due to lapse, and seventy-six days into the fiscal year. Signed into law on December 20, the bill provides $49.1 billion in total appropriations for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, $23.6 billion of which is dedicated to Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, including renewals, administrative funding, and special programs.
The primary aim of Congress when considering all of the housing assistance programs funded through appropriations is to ensure that currently housed families do not lose their assistance due to funding cuts. On this measure, Congress succeeded, and the renewal funding is estimated to be 99.2 percent of eligibility. As in past years, HUD has the authority to offset 2020 allocations to housing authorities (HAs) based on excess HAP reserves including HUD-held reserves. HUD used this authority in 2019 to raise the proration approximately one percentage point to 99.5 percent and may do so again in 2020. This year’s bill and the accompanying reports from both of the Appropriations Committees represent some new thinking and priorities for Congress including new assistance for special populations and a recognition that some HAs lack the funds to utilize all authorized vouchers.
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