U.S. House committee rejects amendment to protect National Housing Trust Fund

On Wednesday the U.S. House Appropriations Committee approved the Fiscal Year 2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) funding bill by a vote of 30-21. The bill, which passed the THUD Appropriations subcommittee on April 29, contains a section transferring all funding intended for the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) into the HOME Investment Partnerships Program instead.

The NHTF was created as part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 to produce, preserve, rehabilitate or operate rental housing for very low income and extremely low income households, defined as those below 50 percent and 30 percent of their area’s average median income, respectively. By design, it was meant to be separate from the appropriations process, funded by 0.042 percent of new business generated by the government-sponsored mortgage enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (read much more about the NHTF here).

The THUD bill, by directing NHTF funds to HOME, would effectively end the trust fund if passed into law. It also limits funding for HOME, another program providing support for local affordable housing efforts, to $900 million, significantly less than the $1.06 billion in funding that the Obama administration requested for the program.

Rep. Barbara Lee of California proposed an amendment on Wednesday to fund HOME at the president’s full request and remove all language about the NHTF from the appropriations bill, which would keep the NHTF’s funding source intact. Lee’s amendment was rejected in a full committee vote.

“We’re nearly 7.1 million units short of what we need to address housing for extremely low income Americans,” Lee told the committee. “By robbing the Housing Trust Fund, this committee is driving low income Americans into displacement, homelessness and real desperation.”

While many committee members voted for Lee’s amendment, it fell several votes short of approval. Among Texas representatives, Rep. Henry Cuellar of Laredo voted for the amendment with Rep. John Carter of Round Rock, Rep. John Culberson of Houston and Rep. Kay Granger of Fort Worth voting against.

The THUD bill now goes to the House of Representatives floor for a full vote.

Watch the committee markup here (the Lee amendment discussion begins at the 2:33:20 mark):

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