The VA/HUD Appropriations bill was rolled into the FY 2004 omnibus and lawmakers maintained several programs near their FY 03 levels, including Brownfields Redevelopment ($25 million), Housing Counseling Assistance ($40 million), Rural Housing Economic Development ($25 million), the HOME Program ($1.93 billion), Youth Build ($65 million) and the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH) program ($7.5 million).
The PATH program is vitally important to the NAHB Research Center, and NAHB worked aggressively to maintain its appropriations level after the Administration proposed removing its funding.
The Zero Energy Buildings program, also of interest to the NAHB Research Center, received a reprieve after it was initially eliminated from both the House and Senate FY 2004 appropriations bills.
Working with Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), NAHB was able to reinstate the program during conference negotiations, which ultimately resulted in a $4 million allocation for FY 2004.
Of concern to NAHB are appropriations levels for two Department of Housing and Urban Development programs — Sec. 8 and Hope VI. While Sec. 8 received an overall boost of $1 billion, the legislation failed to provide any funding for new vouchers, focusing solely on voucher and contract renewals, a move that NAHB opposed.
Although the Administration had proposed to end funding for the Hope VI program, which provides grants to revitalize public housing, appropriators designated $150 million to keep it running. While this funding level keeps the program from being eliminated, it represents a significant drop from the FY 03 level of $570 million.
Funding levels for rural housing programs in FY 04 achieved mixed results compared to the previous fiscal year. While the Sec. 515 direct loan program ($116 million) and Sec. 538 guaranteed loan program ($100 million) appear to be maintaining funding at or near last year’s levels, the Sec. 521 rental assistance program and Sec. 502 housing loan guarantees have taken deep cuts.
Sec. 521 allocations were slashed from $726 million to $584 million and more than $300 million of the Sec. 502 loan guarantees appears to have been moved into the Sec. 502 direct loan program.
Funding for the Sec. 502 housing loan guarantee program fell to $2.725 billion from last year’s $4.26 billion. The program guarantees low-interest loans to low-income individuals and families who receive a home loan directly from the Rural Housing Service (RHS). Because the RHS provides loans to those who cannot qualify for a conventional loan, the program creates homeownership opportunities for many more Americans than might otherwise be possible. NAHB had urged Congress to fully fund the program.
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