There is a cloud of uncertainty when it comes to federal funding for homelessness prevention programs as neither the Senate nor the House of Representatives passed appropriations bills for the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD).
First a little background: The two chambers of Congress have different parties controlling each chamber and as a result they have different rules imposed by each chamber’s leadership on how much could be spent on discretionary programs such as those we rely on for supportive housing and homeless prevention.
For example the Senate proposes funding McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants at $2.26 billion while the House proposes funding at $2.088 billion. Additionally the Senate proposes funding Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers at $19.6 billion, while the House proposes spending $18.611 billion.
The Senate was unable to vote on T-HUD funding before the August recess because under Senate rules 60 votes are needed to close off debate and vote on the bill, and only 52 Senators voted in favor of moving forward with a vote on the bill. In the House,backlash against the proposed spending levels caused the House leadership to decline to put it forward for a vote.
What does this all mean?
Congress is now in Summer Recess until the beginning of September when they will only be in session for a short period of time before recessing again. If both chambers of Congress can pass their respective bills the differences will be reconciled in a conference committee between the two. However, there is the possibility that the two chambers might pass another Continuing Resolution (CR) where programs are funded at their current spending levels for a designated period of time.
While we don’t know what will happen when Congress reconvenes, it is very likely that the conversation will focus around how to fund these critical programs beyond September 30.