CARH’s BROADCAST EMAIL—Legislative Alert
Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate are now in recess for the month of August. House members had left at the end of July but returned to Washington, DC on August 12th to vote on H.R. 5376, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022 that had passed the Senate earlier in the week by a vote of 51-50, with Vice President Harris casting the deciding vote. The House then voted 220-207 to pass the bill and sent it to President Biden. The bill was signed into law today. A detailed analysis of the bill was released by Holland and Knight, LLP. Holland and Knight, LLP, is the firm where Honorable Thomas Reynolds, CARH’s outside legislative and strategic policy advisory works.
The Senate is scheduled to return to Washington on September 5 and the House is scheduled to return on September 12. There are several must-do items on the agenda prior to Congress again recessing for the elections in November. The most important being the passage of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Appropriations bills. As was reported in CARH’s Broadcast Email of July 12, the House Appropriations Committee reported H.R. 8239, the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for FY 2023 to the full House. The full House added H.R. 8239 to H.R. 8294, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture, Rural Development, Energy and Water Development, Financial Services and General Government, Interior, Environment, Military Construction, and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, 2023, which then passed the full House on July 20 by a vote of 220-207.
Of concern to CARH is that the House has only recommended $1.494 billion for Rural Development’s (RD) Section 521 Rental Assistance (RA) program. This level of funding would not allow for renewal of RA contracts that were authorized and funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) P.L. 117-2. The $100 million contained in ARPA funded an estimated 27,000 units in 3,700 properties that had not previously had RA attached to those units. As CARH members know, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) rental assistance programs during the last two years received an enormous amount of funding. Those programs are not being subject to the same cuts as USDA’s Section 521 program.
The Senate has yet to act on any FY 2023 Appropriations bills. However, in an unusual procedure, each of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittees wrote bills and report language for the bills before leaving for the August recess. These bills are to serve as markers for funding levels. The Subcommittees still need to formally act when they return to Washington in September. CARH, along with several housing-related groups across the affordable housing spectrum, voiced our opposition to the House action on RA to members of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. The Subcommittee appears to be looking at the same level of funding as the House for RA, thus jeopardizing those households that recently received RA through the ARPA.
We thank the many CARH members who contacted their Senators and asked them to support $1.602 billion for RA, the level of funding requested by the Administration that provides the $100 million needed for continuation of the ARPA RA units. We need to continue these grassroots efforts during the August recess. Many Senators have returned to their various states, and we urge CARH members to schedule meetings with them and their staff. This list shows the number of properties and ARPA RA units in each state. In contacts with your Senators, it is important to outline the impact on residents.
The ARPA RA was intended to help unsubsidized very low-income residents that RD designated as rent overburdened (paying more than 30% of their limited income in rent). In your meetings, it is urgent that you tell them of the devastating impact of reducing RA funding, especially as inflation continues to rise and housing and daily living costs for individuals who have been helped by the Section 521 program also rise.
It is vital if your Senator serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee, and specifically the Agriculture Subcommittee, that you reach out to them. It is not too late to add back funding for the Section 521 program. When scheduling a meeting during the next few weeks, you will need to contact both the staff in Washington and then the district/state offices as well. For information on how to contact yours Senators, click here. For a list of Senate Appropriations Committee members, click here. For a list of members of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, click here.
On a more positive note, the Senate bill does include language for renewing RA contracts for 20 years subject to annual appropriations. More importantly, the Senate bill includes language for decoupling the RA contract from the 514 or 515 mortgage so the RA contract can continue after mortgage maturity for up to 15,000 units. CARH’s work has been ongoing to include these provisions in authorizing legislation and we have been working with the House Financial Services Committee most recently.
Please let CARH know if you have any Congressional meetings and the outcome of such meetings. In addition, please let us know if there is any follow-up that the CARH National Office should do. Contact CARH at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
For other news and information affecting the affordable rural housing industry, please visit the Newsroom on CARH’s website, www.carh.org.