Senate HUD Bill: More Service Coordinators, More Housing

Legislation | November 10, 2020 | by Linda Couch

The Senate Appropriations Committee moves toward completing fiscal year 2021 spending bills.

On November 10, the Senate Appropriations Committee released all 12 of its fiscal year 2021 appropriations bills, including the bill that funds all HUD programs. The House passed its FY21 HUD appropriations bill on July 31. Because a final FY21 HUD bill was not enacted prior to the October 1, 2020, start of FY21, HUD programs have been operating under a Continuing Resolution that expires on December 11. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has recently stated he hopes to enact final appropriations bills this calendar year, greatly boosting the chances of such an accomplishment.

Overall, the Senate bill includes $853 million for the Section 202 program, vs. the House bill’s $893 million. How these overall account amounts are divided between the program’s uses differs between the two bills as well. The Senate’s bill includes $38.5 million for new Section 202 homes; the House’s bill includes $110 million for new Section 202 housing. Both the Senate and House bills would renew funding for Service Coordinators, but the Senate bill would provide $38.5 million for new Service Coordinators. The House bill includes $110 million for Service Coordinators in general; it is unclear how much of this could be for new Service Coordinators (the Senate bill assumes $100 million is needed for Service Coordinator renewals in FY21). LeadingAge is requesting $600 million for new Section 202 homes in FY21, and $75 million for new Service Coordinators in FY21.

The Senate’s bill would fully fund Section 8 and Section 202 renewals, a key priority for LeadingAge. The bill would provide $662 million for Section 202 renewals, $13 million more than the House’s FY21 bill would provide. For Project Rental Assistance Contract and Senior Preservation Rental Assistance Contract renewals, the Senate bill’s accompanying explanatory report notes the “repeated need for a continuing resolution anomaly to ensure sufficient resources are available for PRAC/SPRAC renewal contracts in the absence of a full-year appropriation.” The statement goes on, “the Committee is concerned that the program management of the annual renewal process requires further analysis and continuity” and directs HUD to evaluate methodologies to improve the renewal process and identify existing funding and administrative mechanisms for areas where the scheduling of renewal anniversary dates may more effectively meet annual renewal needs. Over the last few years, continuing resolutions have had to include special dispensation for the renewal of Section 202 / PRACs.

The Senate bill, like the House bill, would also provide $14 million to extend HUD’s Integrated Wellness in Supportive Housing program for two years. LeadingAge has urged Congress to extend the IWISH demonstration for two years; the three-year, 40-site demonstration was set to end on September 30 but was kept alive in the Continuing Resolution through December 11. The Senate bill notes, “the continuation of these [IWISH demonstration] activities will produce a more robust dataset needed to better understand the impact that service coordinators have on both seniors’ ability to age in place and on preventing unnecessary heath care utilization.”

Within the bill’s Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance account, the Senate seeks about $50 million less than the House bill does for the overall account. The bills seek the same amount for Performance-Based Contract Administrators (PBCAs). In addition, the Senate bill includes $3 million for tenant outreach and education activities. In the 116th Congress, the House and Senate have been grappling with how to increase tenant participation the quality and preservation of federally-assisted housing.

LeadingAge is urging Congress to reach agreement on a final FY21 HUD appropriations bill prior to December 11, rather than enact a second Continuing Resolution.