The Senate numbers for the FY2020 THUD bill are in and sadly, the Housing Counseling Assistance (HCA) program was dealt a blow.

The FY2020 Senate THUD funding bill — which passed the Senate Appropriations Committee today — funds the Housing Counseling Assistance program at $45 million. This is $5 million dollars less than FY2019 levels and $15 million less than the House THUD funding bill passed earlier this summer, which funds HCA at $60 million for FY2020.

The full legislative text from the Senate THUD funding bill is below:

HOUSING COUNSELING ASSISTANCE 

For contracts, grants, and other assistance excluding loans, as authorized under section 106 of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968, as amended, $45 million, to remain available until September 30, 2021, including up to $4,500,000 for administrative contract services and not less than $3,000,000 for the certification of housing counselors as required under 12 U.S.C. 1701x: Provided, That grants made available from amounts provided under this heading shall be awarded with 180 days of enactment of this Act: Provided further, That funds shall be used for providing counseling and advice to tenants and homeowners, both current and prospective, with respect to property maintenance, financial management and literacy, and such other matters as may be appropriate to assist them in improving their housing conditions, meeting their financial needs, and fulfilling the responsibilities of tenancy or homeownership; for program administration; and for housing counseling training. Provided further, That for purposes of providing such grants from amounts provided under this heading, the Secretary may enter into multi-year agreements, as appropriate, subject to the availability of annual appropriations. 

While this is discouraging news, there’s still an opportunity for advocates. The House and Senate will eventually enter conference to negotiate the two funding bills. The focus will now be on leadership between the House and Senate. NHRC will continue working with Congress – but especially the Senate – to increase funding for the Housing Counseling program for FY2020.