Where Congress Stands on Homelessness Funding

When the Senate’s funding bill for affordable housing and homelessness programs was released on July 20, it was clear that our collective advocacy leading up to and on the Alliance’s Capitol Hill Day had been effective and that members of the Senate Appropriations Committee had been listening.

The FY24 Senate Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) Appropriations Bill would increase funding for Homeless Assistance Grants (HAG) by $275 million–$75 million more than what the Alliance had requested. In addition to sustaining investments for existing projects, the bill provides for the following policy proposals in alignment with the Alliance’s Capitol Hill Day policy priorities:

Two-Year Continuum of Care Notice of Funding Opportunity (CoC NOFO): The Senate T-HUD bill includes a biennial CoC NOFO for FY24 and FY25, which could lead to the establishment of a permanent two-year competition process.
Cost of Living Increases: “Concerned (by) multiple reports of service provider challenges in hiring and retaining qualified personnel, $25 million was included for supportive service line items to address reasonable cost of living adjustments” for workers in homelessness services. This is not nearly enough to address the inadequate pay experienced by front-line staff, but it is a welcome acknowledgement of the problem – and an initial down payment on the nation’s debt to the homeless services workforce.
More Permanent Supportive Housing: The bill would provide $100 million “for grants to CoCs for the construction, acquisition, or rehabilitation of new permanent supportive housing. These funds are largely intended to be one-time grants, but up to 20 percent of a grant may be used for operational and supportive costs which will be eligible for renewal within the context of the overall CoC competition.”
Helping Local Providers Access Supportive Housing Services: The bill also includes $5 million “to support direct, community-specific technical assistance from HHS and HUD to communities leveraging programs, like Medicaid, to cover and provide housing-related supportive services and behavioral healthcare.”
Increasing Access to Services: The bill proposes $25 million for “one-time, non-renewable grants to CoCs to support the system level changes needed to improve coordination to address housing related supportive services and improve access to health services, particularly for chronically homeless individuals; these funds are intended to provide flexible support to bolster CoC capacity and may be used to address a wide range of costs, such as staffing increases and training needs to support interagency coordination and benefit design, costs associated with system or process changes to support Medicaid billing and payment requirements, and data integration needs.”

The bill also maintains critical support for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s rental assistance programs, including an increase in funding for Tenant Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) to $31.7 billion. And recognizing the critical shortage of affordable housing, the bill would make critical investments to increase the supply of available affordable housing.

By contrast, the House T-HUD bill would increase HAG by $96 million and provide $31.1 billion for TBRA.  These less robust proposals are due in large part to the fact that the House provided House THUD appropriators with $23 billion less than their Senate counterparts to work with.  And some Republican Representatives are threatening to cut the T-HUD bill and other House funding measures by billions of additional dollars if they are considered on the floor of the House by the entire House of Representatives. 

Nevertheless, the Alliance will be urging lawmakers to support the Senate’s higher HAG and TBRA funding levels when House and Senate lawmakers meet to resolve differences later this year and come to an agreement on a final FY24 T-HUD conference report.  The Alliance will also seek the inclusion of all of the proposed Senate policy items in the final House-Senate conference report. 

The Senate T-HUD bill was drafted by Subcommittee Chair Brian Schatz (D-HI) and his Ranking Member Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), under the supervision of Appropriations Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and her ranking member Susan Collins (R-ME).  The Senate funding measure was approved, 29-0.  The House bill, however, enjoys only Republican support. 

At this time, it does not appear as if the T-HUD bill will move to the floor in either chamber—and that larger issues, particularly the insistence of some House Republicans on slashing spending even further, may lead to a long continuing resolution or even a government shutdown. 

Stay tuned to the Alliance’s advocacy alerts to find out how to take action on homelessness-related legislation.