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A coalition of affordable housing organizations including LeadingAge is urging Congress to pass fiscal year appropriations bills that support housing providers and older adults and to work to avoid a government shutdown.

The Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding, of which LeadingAge is a steering committee member, sent a fact sheet to all congressional offices this week encouraging lawmakers to pass appropriations bills for the US Housing and Urban Development and Agriculture departments as soon as possible.

Many actions critical for HUD multifamily and affordable housing programs would be affected by a lapse in funding, including funding, grants and services, the coalition said.

Drawing from experiences during the 2018-2019 government shutdown, the fact sheet describes the potential harmful effects of a shutdown or long-term continuing resolution on federal affordable housing and community development programs, according to LeadingAge

Continuing resolutions, which maintain current funding levels for federal programs, act as a cut and reduce the number of people served due to rising costs, the coalition said. 

The group pointed specifically to the Service Coordinator Grant Program, which funds 1,600 service coordinators in affordable housing for older adults and people with disabilities. A continuing resolution, the letter said, would delay grant processing, forcing properties to temporarily lay off service coordinators. An extended continuing resolution also could affect the ability to retain existing service coordinators and maintain service levels.

Section 202 housing supported by Project Rental Assistance Contracts relies on consistent federal funding for operations and also faces challenges under continuing resolutions, the coalition said. Inadequate funding during a continuing resolution would leave some owners without operating funds for their affordable senior housing communities and would place them in a “precarious financial situation,” according to the fact sheet.

A government shutdown, the letter said, would exacerbate challenges for affordable housing providers still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic as well as create new hardships for low-income households. 

The fiscal year 2019 partial government shutdown had an immediate effect on HUD’s Section 202 PRAC contracts, with hundreds of contracts going unrenewed, the group said. Nonprofit owners in the program had to borrow funds from themselves to cover expenses, and payments lagged for several months after the shutdown.

“With the country still recovering from the impacts of the pandemic, the importance of passing comprehensive spending bills in a timely manner and avoiding a long-term continuing resolution of full government shutdown cannot be overstated,” the coalition wrote.

HUD’s contingency plan states that 339 of HUD’s 8,528 staff members would continue working full time as “excepted” employees, performing activities deemed essential to operations. 

LeadingAge has developed a resource to guide HUD-assisted multifamily housing providers on preparing for a potential lapse in HUD funding and operations.