On Wednesday, May 21, the House Appropriations Committee approved a Transportation, Housing and Urban Development spending bill that would increase funding for HUD Housing Counseling Assistance to $47 M (from $45 M in FY 2014). This was a big victory for the non-profit housing counseling community, as the Republican-controlled House has generally preferred cutting programs in recent years.
While the bill that was voted out of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) subcommittee provided level-funding for HUD Housing Counseling, the breakthrough came when Congressman Charlie Dent, a moderate Republican who represents Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, took up the cause of increasing funding for housing counseling. Congressman Dent then worked with the subcommittee Chairman Tom Latham (R-IA) to find room in the budget to offset the increase for housing counseling and the increase was included in the bill that was passed by the full Appropriations Committee. Special recognition goes to Alan Jennings of the Community Action Council of Lehigh Valley, who worked closely with Rep. Dent on this initiative.
Unfortunately, the news was not all good. The House bill also cuts funding for the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling (NFMC) program to $50 M (from $67.5 M in the FY 2014 budget). On the other hand, this was not a surprise as appropriators have stressed NFMC is meant to be a temporary program and the House funded the program at President Obama’s requested level.
Attention now turns to the Senate, where the goal is to win support for funding the HUD Housing Counseling program at President Obama’s requested level of $60 M. Whatever number comes out of the Senate, we expect it will be higher than the House number, meaning it will set the ceiling for the final number when the House and Senate meet to negotiate. The good news for now, though, is that, as a result of Congressmen Dent and Latham, the floor in that negotiation will now be $2 M higher.