House made of money
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The release of six fiscal year 2024 appropriations bills on Sunday brought mixed news for affordable senior housing, according to LeadingAge.

President Biden signed a continuing resolution, HR 7463, on Friday, preventing a partial government shutdown and extending funding for another one to three weeks. It was the fourth continuing resolution enacted since FY23 ended Sept. 30.

Congressional appropriators released a $460 billion package on Sunday that included six spending bills for Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies; Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies; Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies; Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies; Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies; and Interior, Environment and Related Agencies.

During a Monday policy update call, LeadingAge Senior Vice President of Policy and Advocacy Linda Couch said the HUD bill provides a mixed bag for senior housing programs. Critical program renewals were included on the one hand, but on the other hand the bill did not provide any funding for new Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly  homes for the first time in five to six years. 

The HUD bill would fully fund Section 202 Project Rental Assistance Contract, or PRAC, renewals at the $797 million funding level HUD requested, plus an additional $112 million to fully renew service coordinator grants, and $4 million for HUD administrative costs.

The bill also would provide a $1.1 billion increase over FY23 funding for Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance, or PBRA, contract renewals, as well as the Housing Choice Voucher and Homelessness Assistance Grant programs. Combined, those three programs serve more than 1.5 million older adults.

LeadingAge, however, pointed out that along with no new funding for Section 202 homes, the bill also doesn’t fund service coordinator grants or support for PRAC rent increases. HUD had asked for additional funds for each of those programs.

Overall, the bill settled on the House’s funding levels for the Section 202 account, which amounts to a 15% cut to funding in FY24. LeadingAge Senior Vice President of Policy and Advocacy Linda Couch in a blog post called it “a disappointing amount given long waiting lists and increasing worst case housing needs among older adults.”

Overall, based on an agreement reached earlier in the year, non-defense discretionary funding would be essentially flat from FY23. For HUD, the bill would provide an overall increase of $3.4 billion over FY23 funding, with most going toward the Section 8 PBRA contract renewals, as well as the Housing Choice Voucher and Homelessness Assistance Grant programs. 

The HUD bill also includes $30 million for the Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes’ Aging in Place Modification grants to treat housing-related health and safety hazards in 6,000 low-income older adult homes. 

LeadingAge said the House is expected to take up the appropriations bills on Wednesday, with anticipated Senate action and President Biden’s signature ahead of the expiration of the current continuing resolution on Friday. The current continuing resolution has kept HUD programs funded at FY23 levels since Oct. 1. Lawmakers also have agreed to enact all remaining spending bills prior to the March 22 deadline.