Grassroots Efforts Needed on Spending Bills, Affordable Housing Credit and Housing Bond Programs, and Infrastructure Proposals

CARH’S BROADCAST EMAIL – Legislative Update

August 17, 2017

The Senate adjourned for its summer recess on August 3, later than expected after its attempts to pass a repeal and replacement bill for the Affordable Care Act failed. The House recessed on July 28. Both the House and Senate are operating in pro forma sessions until September 5, which prevents recess appointments, but no business is being conducted. When Congress returns immediately after Labor Day, they have several items on their agenda that must be completed by the end of September, including passage of all funding bills for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 and increasing the debt-ceiling, which is always a controversial and difficult effort.

It is likely that there will be a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) passed that will keep the government running past the end of the current fiscal year, which ends on September 30, while a longer FY18 spending bill or set of bills is completed. A CR would maintain funding levels at the current FY17 levels, but programs would be subject to adjustments based on what ultimately passes for FY18. It is possible that the spending legislation is combined with the increase in the debt ceiling and passed as a package, but if not, that will require a separate vote and take up legislative time and effort.

There continues to be reports that after these “must do” legislative items, Congress will then turn to consideration of a tax reform package. At this point it remains unclear as to how encompassing this tax reform could be, i.e., will it replicate the 1986 Tax Reform Act or be on a smaller scale such as the tax cuts passed during the George W. Bush presidency, which expired in 2010 and were then extended two years? The Administration has also remained publicly committed to passing an infrastructure bill.

Due to the ambiguity surrounding contents of the spending bills, tax reform, and infrastructure initiatives, it is important during the next two weeks that CARH members, if you have not already done so, schedule meetings with your members of Congress while they are in their districts and advocate for affordable rural housing programs. If you have any ribbon cutting ceremonies scheduled or have recently completed renovations or new construction, invite your Representatives, Senators, and their staff to your properties so that they can see first-hand how this housing is making a difference in individuals and families lives throughout rural America. Such events, in particular, provide a unique opportunity to demonstrate how these programs, be they via spending or tax programs, are being implemented.

Keep in mind the following:

Funding Issues

As CARH members can see from the attached charts (USDA funding chart; HUD funding chart) and earlier broadcast emails on FY18 funding (July 24; July 15; May 25), both the respective House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees, and to a large extent,  the full Committees have recommended  higher levels of funding for affordable housing programs than was proposed in the President’s budget request. Ongoing indications are that these higher numbers will be reflected in the final budgets for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U. S. Department of Agriculture for FY18. Keep in mind despite these higher funding levels being in the legislation, sequestration is still the law of the land and needs to be periodically pushed down the road and Congress needs to act on that as well. Sequestration would severely impact affordable housing programs, particularly, funding for the Section 521 Rental Assistance (RA) program.

Since rural transactions use several sources of funding, members of Congress and their staffs need to know that any reduction in funding will have a greater impact on rural properties than similar properties in urban areas. You should make the point that at the minimum, affordable rural housing programs should be funded at FY17 levels of funding.

Tax Related Issues

The Administration has announced its intent to proceed with tax reform with its push starting in September. At the same time, debate is expected to continue on how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) can be changed, and the two are naturally linked because the ACA has a large tax component. Our advocacy must remain focused on the leadership in both the House and Senate, as well as the Chairs and Ranking Members on the Ways and Means and Finance Committees, who are now actively working on tax reform. The leadership, in turn, is focused on how a bill acceptable to the Administration and both houses of Congress can pass this year. There is no doubt that reductions in the marginal tax rates will lower the value of the Affordable Housing Credits for developers and investors. However, ensuring that the Affordable Housing Credit and Housing Bonds are continued in any tax reform proposal is paramount.

CARH continues to advocate for S. 548, the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (introduced by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT)  and similar, but not identical legislation in the House, H.R. 1661 (introduced by Representatives Pat Tiberi (R-OH) and Richard Neal (D-MA). On August 1, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing “Affordable Housing Crisis:  Challenges and Solutions.”  The hearing focused on S. 548 but Senators also brought other impediments which have led to affordable housing gaps across the country. While CARH did not testify at this hearing, we submitted written testimony to the Senate Finance Committee this week on the crisis in rural communities throughout the country.

In discussions with members of Congress and their staff, CARH members should remember to emphasize that there is an affordable housing crisis in our nation, and without the Affordable Housing Credit and Bond programs there will be more need to depend on direct funding programs. Given the budget environment, that would be disastrous for rural housing. At the same time, the demand on the Affordable Housing Credit and Bond programs continue to grow. If direct funding programs are cut, there will be more pressure to use the Affordable Housing Credit and Bond programs. The enhancements envisioned by the aforementioned legislation will help alleviate some of that pressure.
Members should also asked their Representatives if they are not already cosponsors of H.R. 1661 to cosponsor the legislation and also ask your Senators to cosponsor S. 548, if they have not already done so. It is important to show overwhelming support for the Affordable Housing Credit and Bond programs as Congress begins to draft tax reform legislation.


Since April, CARH has been part of the “Rebuild Rural Coalition,” a coalition of more than 200 organizations representing rural communities, agriculture producers, and rural businesses. The coalition meets on a regular basis with the intention of gaining support in the Administration and Congress for infrastructure legislation that would include provisions aimed at rural communities. We have been successful in getting rural housing included as part of this discussion, using the need for over $5 billion for preservation of the existing portfolio. We have emphasized that providing for this portfolio will not only care for the extremely low income families and elderly residents, but will improve infrastructure and create jobs. For each 100 apartment units, 116 jobs (plus an additional 32 recurring local jobs) are created, generating more than $3.3 million in federal, state, and local revenue. Moreover, many rural areas are facing worker shortages due to the lack of available affordable housing near rural jobs.

We have emphasized the need to have both direct spending but also the enhancements that are envisioned in S. 548 and H.R. 1661, the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act. We ask CARH members to continue to remind their Members of Congress of the needs of rural communities, and that rural housing is rural infrastructure and these programs are successful public-private partnerships.
Should CARH members set-up meetings with their Members of Congress during the next few weeks, please let CARH’s national office know of the outcome or if there is a need for us to follow through with your Representatives and Senators when they return to Washington, DC in September.

The CARH Board of Directors will be meeting in Washington, DC on September 6-7. The first day of their meeting will be spent on Capitol Hill where many of the issues outlined in this email will be discussed.

To contact your Senators, click here.

To contact your Representatives, click here.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact CARH at 703-837-9001 or         

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