Senate Democrats

Democrats Investing in America’s Priorities: Safe and Affordable Housing

The home loan mortgage crisis currently gripping our nation has only exacerbated our nation’s ongoing affordable housing crunch.  Despite dropping interest rates, the heightened underwriting standards for obtaining a home loan have made it more difficult for many Americans to purchase a home, and job losses and the continued resetting of adjustable rate mortgages have made it more difficult for existing homeowners to make their mortgage payments.  The result has been an increased demand and cost for rental housing, which has only made it more difficult for non-owners to rent. 

To ensure that Americans have a safe and stable place to live, H.R.1105, the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009, will provide annual appropriations for:

Federally-Subsidized and Public Housing.  H.R.1105 would provide $16.8 billion for tenant-based rental assistance, which is $341 million above 2008 funding levels, to continue providing 1.9 million vouchers to individuals and families with homes and provide 14,000 new, targeted vouchers for disabled and homeless veterans to help them weather the housing crisis.  Within this account, $75 million is allocated for Veterans Affairs housing. 

The Omnibus appropriations bill would provide $7.5 billion, which is $1 billion above the 2008 funding levels, for the Project-Based Rental Assistance program to provide affordable housing to 1.3 million low-income families and individuals, most of whom are elderly or disabled.

The bill would also provide $2.45 billion, $11 million above the 2008 funding level, for Public Housing Authorities to make critical repairs and improvements to public housing units and improve living conditions for residents.  The legislation would further provide $4.45 billion, $255 million above 2008 funding level, for maintenance, energy costs, and other operating expenses associated with public housing units. 

Stabilizing the Housing Market.  H.R.1105 would establish a $315 billion limitation on commitments to guarantee single-family loans during Fiscal Year 2009 within the Federal Housing Administration’s Mutual Mortgage Insurance Program account.  This compares to the 2008 limitation of $185 billion. In the absence of this increase, FHA’s increasingly central role in addressing the foreclosure crisis will cause it to reach the lower cap before the close of the current fiscal year.  At that point, new homebuyers, and distressed current homeowners needing to refinance, will be unable to access safe, affordable FHA-guaranteed home mortgages. 

The legislationwould also establish a $300 billion limitation on new commitments in the Guarantees of Mortgage-back Securities Loan Guarantee Program Account.  The Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae) guarantees privately issued securities backed by mortgages insured or guaranteed by FHA, the VA, or the Rural Housing Service.

Housing for Americans with Special Needs.  H.R.1105 would provide $765 million for the Housing for the Elderly program, which is $30 million above the 2008 funding level, to provide capital grants under Section 202 to eligible entities for the acquisition, rehabilitation, or construction of housing for low-income seniors.

The bill would provide $250 million for the Housing for People with Disabilities program, which is $13 million above the 2008 funding level, to provide capital grants under section 811 to eligible entities for the acquisition, rehabilitation, or construction of housing for persons with disabilities.

The legislationwould also provide $310 million for the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program (HOPWA), which is designed to provide states and localities with resources and incentives to devise long-term comprehensive strategies for meeting the housing needs of persons living with HIV/AIDS and their families.

Rural Housing.  H.R.1105 would provide $26 million, which is $9 million above the 2008 funding level, for the Rural Housing and Economic Development program to provide a comprehensive approach to the special housing and economic development needs of rural communities.

Community and Economic Development.  H.R.1105 would provide $3.9 billion, $34 million above the 2008 funding level, for Community Development Block Grants to fund community and economic development projects in 1,180 communities.

The legislation would provide $120 million for the Revitalization of Severely Distressed Public Housing program, which is $20 million above 2008 funding level.  The program, also known as HOPE VI, provides competitive grants to revitalize neighborhoods with deteriorating public housing projects, including demolition of public housing and construction of mixed-income housing. 

The bill would also provide $10 million for the Brownfields Redevelopment program, which provides competitive economic development grants to cities for the redevelopment of abandoned, idled, and underused industrial and commercial facilities where development is hindered by real or potential environmental contamination.

The bill would provide $1.8 billion for the Home Investment Partnerships Program to provide assistance to state and local governments in expanding the supply and affordability of housing to low- and very low-income people.

Housing Counseling.  H.R.1105 would provide $65 million for Housing Counseling Assistance, which is $50 million above the 2008 funding level.

The legislation would also provide $50 million for the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation to provide grants to counsel families in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure. 

The bill would also provide $26.5 million, for the Self-help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP) toassist low-income homebuyers who are willing to contribute to the building of their houses.

Assisting the Homeless. H.R.1105 would provide $1.7 billion for homeless assistance grants, which is $91 million above the 2008 funding level, for these grants to break the cycle of homelessness and to move homeless persons and families into permanent housing by providing rental assistance, emergency shelter, transitional and permanent housing, and supportive services to homeless persons and families.

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