February 7, 2018

Community Developments: Congressional Leaders Reach Budget Agreement

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  • Congressional leaders reached a two-year budget deal earlier today, lifting strict budget caps on defense and domestic spending. The budget deal is expected to increase discretionary federal spending by roughly $300 billion over the next two years – including increases of $63 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2018 and $68 billion in FY 2019 for discretionary domestic programs. The deal would also lift the debt ceiling and provide tens of billions in funding for disaster aid, including $28 billion through the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program. The agreement is also expected to include $20 billion for infrastructure, $5.8 billion for childcare and $6 billion to fight opioid addiction. The Senate is expected to amend a short-term spending bill that the House passed last night to include the budget deal and send the package back for the House’s approval before February 8 when the existing continuing resolution expires. (Politico, February 7) 
     
  • As previously reported in Community Developments, the Trump administration is considering instituting work requirements for public housing residents and raising rents for about 4 million recipients of federal housing assistance. According to a draft proposal by HUD, the changes would allow public housing agencies to introduce minimum employment requirements for determining eligibility and increase rent payments from households receiving federal rental assistance from 30 to 35 percent of gross monthly income. An analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) shows that nearly 90 percent of the more than 4.6 million households that receive rental assistance through HUD are elderly, disabled, working/worked recently, or likely had access to work programs under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The analysis also shows that HUD-assisted households that are not working, particularly those detached from the labor force for a long period, are more likely to face significant barriers to work, including chronic health problems, low levels of education, full-time caretaking responsibilities and domestic violence. (CBPP, February 5) 
     
  • More than 340 national, state and local members of the Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC), including Enterprise, have issued a letter to Congress urging the immediate passage of a disaster relief bill to help low-income people recover from the 2017 hurricanes and wildfires. The letter also urges Congress to amend the most recent House-approved disaster relief bill to provide housing-specific resources that would address the severe shortage of affordable rental homes in disaster-impacted communities, stand up HUD’s Disaster Housing Assistance Program and collect data to ensure that federal resources are being spent fairly and equitably in meeting the needs of low-income communities. (NLIHC, February 7)  
     
  • A new report, Delivering Urban Resilience, looks at the cost-effectiveness of adopting citywide smart surface technologies, examining in detail El Paso, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.. Smart surface technologies help manage sunlight and rain, including solar PV roofs, green roofs, reflective pavements and urban trees. The report, which is built on more than two years of data collection and research in collaboration with 15 organizations, including Enterprise Community Partners, shows that an investment in these technologies would result in net present values of $540 million in El Paso, $3.6 billion in Philadelphia and $1.8 billion in Washington over a 40-year period. (USGBC, February 6) 
     
  • San Diego County has launched the Whole Person Wellness program, with the goal of providing health services to 1,049 homeless individuals countywide.  The county will spend $22 million in federal grants over the next three years and match that amount to provide health care and housing to homeless individuals identified as frequent users of emergency care services. The program is designed to decrease emergency room visits and create public savings. A similar program run by the University of Illinois Hospital found that program participants’ health improved and the cost of a typical hospital stay dropped from $3,000 a visit to $1,000. (The San Diego Union-Tribune, February 6) 

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