Please Communicate Our Priorities to Lawmakers
PHADA President David A. Northern, Sr.
By the time you receive this edition of the Advocate in the mail, Congress will be on its annual summer recess until after Labor Day. I thought this would be a good time to provide a brief update on where things stand on the FY 22 budget and a few of our other major priorities.
When Congress returns to Washington, Senators and Representatives will not have much time to act. The new fiscal year begins on October 1 and there is little doubt a Continuing Resolution (CR) will be needed to fund the federal government until later this year or possibly even into 2022.
Biden Administration and House Plans
Following the release of President Biden’s proposed budget this past spring, the House T-HUD subcommittee, led by Rep. David Price (D-NC), marked up its legislation last month. The full House subsequently adopted it with some modifications.
The President’s proposed plan and the House spending bill are the best HUD budget scenarios we have seen in many years. Notably, the House legislation includes $3.4 billion in capital funds, which is $600 million more than current spending. This increase would be even further enhanced if lawmakers pass a more comprehensive measure including $40 billion in capital funds as part of a massive $3.5 trillion reconciliation package to be considered in the autumn. This package is one of PHADA’s top legislative priorities and a once in a lifetime opportunity to address the rapidly escalating capital fund backlog.
The House bill includes about a 95–100 percent proration for the Operating Fund, depending on the overall tenant rent situation. Rental income has been fluctuating significantly over the last 18 months because many residents have either lost their jobs or experienced declining incomes due to the pandemic.
On the Section 8 side of the ledger, the House measure is expected to fully fund all renewals and provide roughly 125,000 new vouchers. A broad voucher expansion is another one of PHADA’s key objectives as spelled out in our recent joint statement with other housing organization.
To its credit, the Biden Administration proposed an almost 30 percent increase in HCV administrative fees in its 2022 budget. The House bill is not as generous but would still provide about a 14 percent increase compared to this year with an estimated proration around 85–86 percent. One of our major objectives, therefore, will be to advocate for additional funding in the Senate bill. In fact, PHADA is leading an effort amongst dozens of other organizations, calling on Senate leaders to add substantially more in HCV administrative fee appropriations.
Senate Timetable Unclear and Potential Headwinds
At this stage, the Senate appropriations timetable is uncertain. Senate staff that PHADA has met with note that a CR is inevitable and add there could even be a few CRs possibly extending into the early months of 2022. The President’s budget includes a 15–16 percent proposed increase in domestic program spending with about a 1–2 percent increase for defense. Many Senators insist they will not agree to that plan and will demand more for national defense when the Senate marks up its appropriations bills.
Another possible complication is the statutory debt limit. Congress cannot continue borrowing without statutory approval once the present limit is reached. Borrowing authority will likely hit the cap sometime in October or November. Because federal debt now is approaching almost $30 trillion, many lawmakers are calling for spending cuts. Consequently, there could be some fierce budget debates come autumn. Thus, it is particularly important that you communicate PHADA’s budget priorities to your state’s two Senators.
You can read more details in PHADA’s new Position Paper. There is also more information about capital funding and infrastructure here.
Please use PHADA’s materials and information in your advocacy with members of Congress. I also encourage you to attend our upcoming Legislative Forum in Washington on September 12–14. We will be hearing about the budget and other important matters from key members of Congress and HUD officials. It will be a most opportune time to meet in person with your elected officials and their staff. Please see the agenda and related information on PHADA’s website.
HABD Partners with NFL Flag Football
I played a bit of football in my youth, which provided me some opportunities and even helped me to decide to attend college and ultimately enter the housing profession. With this experience in mind, my agency (Housing Authority of the Birmingham District, HABD) recently collaborated with NFL Flag to give our youth the chance to play in an organized tournament.
Sports such as flag football are safe, can help build character, improve physical fitness, and teach valuable social skills and teambuilding lessons to children. They are also a lot of fun! It was rewarding to see how excited and happy the kids were to play in complimentary NFL replica jerseys. Led by former pro football player Izell Reese, who is from Alabama, the NFL is hoping to build on its pilot program with HAs and spread the initiative across our state and the whole country for both boys and girls. If you are interested in learning more, you can view the video from HABD’s recent tournament here, and learn more about NFL Flag.