Last weekend, Congress passed the final FY2015 budget, funding most government agencies through the remainder of the fiscal year. The FY15 CR-Omnibus provides funding for housing and service programs that assist homeless populations and low-income families through September 30, 2015. Congress had passed a two year budget deal that temporarily suspended sequestration, but put in spending caps for non-defense discretionary programs, like housing assistance and services for mental health and substance abuse treatment programs. Unfortunately, this budget deal led to either flat or slightly reduced funding for critical programs that help the most vulnerable populations (see chart below). While funding levels remain relatively flat, CSH had engaged members of Congress on policy provisions that were ultimately included in the Omnibus appropriations bill.
CSH worked with the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare to include a demonstration program targeted at at-risk youth aging out of the foster care system to help provide them to with longer-term rental assistance and opportunities to participate in economic capacity building programs. HUD had released a report in the summer citing administrative issues with the vouchers targeted to this population. This demonstration program would relieve some of those burdens while helping the target population gain valuable life-skills that will help them remain stably housed, obtain employment and improved outcomes.
Through the Partnerships to Demonstrate the Effectiveness of Supportive Housing for Families in the Child Welfare System, CSH has learned about the benefits of improved coordination between child welfare agencies and housing providers. CSH made a report language recommendation to bring this type of coordination to scale, directing HUD and ACYF to work together to improve coordination between the two systems.
Finally, CSH joined the National Preservation Working Group, a network of nonprofit housing organizations dedicated to preserving affordable housing to extend the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program. The final spending bill extended the RAD public housing conversion program for an additional two years and made the conversion program for older multifamily properties permanent. Many of the older multifamily properties that were operating under one-year contract extensions serve elderly households or persons with disabilities. Extending contracts will make it possible to leverage financing to rehabilitate properties and bring services to properties.
As this Congress wraps up, CSH is already looking ahead to continue its work with the Administration to use evidence-based practices to inform policy decisions and with the new Congress to educate members about the benefits of permanent supportive housing and the work that CSH does in their communities.
FINAL FY15 Appropriations Amounts vs Proposed & FY14
|Program||FY2014||House FY2015||Senate FY2015||Final 2015|
|Housing Choice Vouchers||$19.1 billion||$19.357 billion||$19.5 billion||$19.304 billion|
|HUD-VASH||$75 million||$75 million||$75 million||$75 million|
|Homelessness Assistance||$2.105 billion||$2.105 billion||$2.145 billion||$2.135 billion|
|HOME||$950 million||$700 million||$950 million||$900 million|
|Section 811||$126 million||$135 million||$135 million||$135 million|
|PBRA||$9.9 billion||$9.7 billion||$9.7 billion||$9.7 billion|
|Runaway Youth and Homeless||$114 million||N/A||$116 million||$114 million|
|SAMHSA: Homelessness Programs||$74 million||N/A||$74 million||$74 million|
|Social Innovation Funding||$70 million||N/A||$70 million||$70 million|
|DoJ: Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction||$8.2 million||$9 million||$9 million||$8.5 million|
 Some housing assistance programs such as the Housing Choice Voucher and McKinney-Vento programs had slight increases to attribute for renewal costs. These increases are considered flat funding because of increased housing costs along with the issuance of new long-term assistance in FY2014.