HousingWire

Sequestration no more: HUD budget restores funding above 2013 levels

New focus on assistance, regulatory power, agency muscle

March 4, 2014

The secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development unveiled the department’s fiscal 2015 budget, and the $46.6 billion budget provides a look at how HUD thinks it can accelerate economic growth, expand opportunity for all Americans, and ensure fiscal responsibility.

The budget proposal for fiscal 2015 is a 2.6% increase over 2013 levels and a 10% increase over the department’s sequestration funding level, which was 1-2% less than normal spending in calendar 2013 because of the spending cuts that took effect March 1, 2013.

On a conference call with reporters Tuesday, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said the proposed budget adheres to the 2015 spending levels agreed to in the Bipartisan Budget Act and shows the choices the White House would make at those levels. 

“This year’s budget presents a unique opportunity for HUD to work within the frame of the Bipartisan Budget agreement while continuing to build ladders of opportunity for all Americans” said Donovan. “This funding will continue to help strengthen and stabilize our nation’s housing market while putting our economy back on the right track and helping those in most need.”

Donovan’s HUD budget is an essential component of the White House’s vision of investing in growing the economy, creating jobs, increasing skills training and improving education. 

It also reflects Donovan and HUD’s bridling against the sequestration, which Donovan blamed for a number of shortcomings in HUD’s performance. For instance, he blamed the “pernicious effect of sequestration” for HUD not accomplishing its goal of “ending chronic homelessness” by 2015.

FHA Commissioner Carol Galante said the budget proposal hits the four priorities for the Obama Administration: Driving economic growth by increasing access to credit and strengthening the FHA, providing opportunity by restoring and increasing public assistance, creating growth and opportunity, and ensuring fiscal responsibility.

The FY2015 budget estimates that the FHA will end the year with a capital reserve balance of $7.8 billion and will not need a mandatory appropriation from the U.S. Treasury.

The budget also increases housing counseling by 33% above last year’s level, to $60 million; increases investments in several key programs, including Tenant-Based Rental Assistance, Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Vouchers and, Choice Neighborhoods; and funds homeless assistance grants at $301 million above FY2014 levels.

The FY15 Budget provides $120 million for the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative.  

Additionally, the Administration’s “Growth, Opportunity and Security Initiative provides $280 million. These funds will support comprehensive revitalization in high-poverty neighborhoods and the Administration’s Promise Zones Initiative.

The budget eliminates the Rental Assistance Demonstration cap of 60,000 units, which will enable HUD to address the more than 180,000 units of applications on hand today, and create approximately $6 billion in private financing for the recapitalization of public housing.