Real Estate

Housing industry clashes over support of new spending bill

Funds government through September, but what does it do for housing?

Congress passed a $1.3 trillion budget Friday, possibly avoiding what would have been a third government shutdown in 2018, but now, the housing industry disagrees over the contents of the bill.

The bill allots $4.6 billion in additional funding compared to fiscal year 2017 for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is up $12 billion from President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for the agency.

But despite this increase in funding, some experts say the bill didn’t go far enough in meeting the needs of the housing industry.

“Bipartisan leaders in the Senate and House fell woefully short by agreeing to a budget compromise that significantly waters down any improvements to the Low Income Housing Tax Credit,” said Randy Noel, National Association of Home Builders chairman. “The nation is facing a significant affordable housing crisis and the LIHTC is the premier program to help builders produce affordable rental housing units.”

“Unfortunately, the spending bill does not do nearly enough to meet the affordable housing needs of this country, particularly in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, which are still struggling to recover from the devastating hurricanes of last year,” he said. “NAHB will continue to push Congress to finish the job and quickly pass the Affordable Housing Improvements Act, which enjoys broad, bipartisan support on both sides of the Capitol. It would make a real difference by strengthening the LIHTC program and promoting the construction of hundreds of thousands of sorely needed affordable rental units over the next decade.”

But not everyone was disappointed with the bill. While home builders said it was not enough, Realtors were pushing Congress to move forward with its passage.

“With six months remaining in the 2018 fiscal year, the National Association of Realtors urges the passage of the ‘omnibus appropriations bill’ agreed upon by U.S. House and Senate negotiators last night, which is designed to fund the federal government through September 30, 2018,” NAR said in a statement.

NAR explained that the 2,232-page bill contains provisions including alleviating the weakening of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit from the new tax law and extending the National Flood Insurance Program through at least mid-summer.

“In addition to extending the NFIP through July, with the goal of passing a long-term reauthorization and reform of the program soon, this spending bill contains significant improvements for providing affordable housing options for low-income households,” NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall said. “Realtors were a key part of a larger coalition that fought for these necessary changes, and we’re pleased to see the steps taken to strengthen the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit to address our country’s housing needs.”

“It’s now time for Congress step up to the plate, pass the bill and fund the government through the rest of the 2018 fiscal year,” Mendenhall said.

Of course, all of this means nothing if Trump vetos the spending bill, which he threatened to do.

But despite Trump’s threats to veto the bill, its passage in Congress has managed to stabilize the markets.

“Global equities have been pummeled over the past 24 hours, ostensibly due to fears of a trade war, but it has been fueled by an accelerating rotation out of the technology sector,” according to an release from the Intercontinental Exchange. “So far today, the markets have shown some stability, or perhaps exhaustion, driven by the passage of the fiscal year 2018 spending bill, although President Trump tweeted that he may veto it.”

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