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Housing and Homelessness Funding in the FY '08 Omnibus Funding Bill

December 20, 2007

HUD Section 811 Funding Restored

The final omnibus funding bill restores HUD Section 811 to its FY 2007 level of $237 million.  Taking into account the 1.747% across-the-board cut, the FY 2008 level is $232.9 million – rejecting the $112 million cut to the program put forward by the President.  This is the 3rd year in a row that Congress has rejected proposed deep reductions to Section 811 by the Bush Administration. 

HUD Section 811 funds capital advance and project-based grants to local non-profit disability organizations to develop supportive housing targeted to non-elderly adults with severe disabilities, including serious mental illness.  NAMI is extremely grateful to Representatives John Olver (D-MA) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) and Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Kit Bond (R-MO) for their leadership in restoring funding to the Section 811 program. 

For FY 2008, Section 811 is expected to be broken down as follows:

  • $143.2 million for new capital advance/project-based grants,
  • $74.7 million to renew expiring tenant-based rent subsidies and contract amendments (additional funds to lease up previously allocated tenant-based contracts), and
  • $15 million for renewal of existing project-based subsidies (known as PRACs). 

The final omnibus bill includes no funding for new Section 811 tenant-based rental assistance.  NAMI and a coalition of other national disabilities organizations had urged Congress not to fund any new Section 811 tenant-based assistance (also known as the “mainstream” voucher program for people with disabilities) out of concern that HUD has failed to ensure that housing agencies are actually targeting rental assistance to individuals with severe disabilities. 

Section 8 Rental Voucher Funding – New Funding for Non-Elderly Disabled Vouchers

Section 8 is by far the largest program in the HUD budget.  Most of the $16.3 billion Section 8 budget goes to renew the 1.9 million rental vouchers now in use.  This includes a $500 million increase in the Senate bill above current levels, which is about $350 million above the President’s request. 

More importantly, the bill allocates funding for new tenant-based vouchers targeted to non-elderly people with disabilities, including severe mental illness.   These new vouchers, known as “incrementals” would allow HUD to fund new vouchers for the first time in nearly 7 years.  This is a tremendous victory for NAMI and allies in the larger disability community and marks an important step forward in helping to relieve the extremely long waiting lists that exist out there for people living on SSI to access rental assistance through the Section 8 program. 

Specifically, the final bill allocates $30 million for this purpose – enough to fund 4,000 new incremental vouchers targeted to non-elderly people with disabilities.  Taking into account the 1.747% across-the-board cut, this allocation of new tenant-based assistance will be $29.48 million. 

For the Section 8 project-based program, the final bill allocates $6.38 billion to renew the 1.3 million rent subsidies tied to affordable housing projects serving most elderly households and people with disabilities.  This is $503 million more than current levels, and $667 million above the President’s request. 

McKinney-Vento Homeless Funding Increased

The final omnibus bill fully funds the Bush Administration’s request to increase the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act by $146 million for FY 2008, boosting funding to $1.586 billion.  Taking into account the 1.747% across-the-board reduction, the final allocation will be just over $1.558 billion.  The McKinney-Vento program funds emergency shelter grants, as well as critical permanent housing programs such as Shelter Plus Care and SHP supportive housing that serve chronically homeless individuals with serious mental illness and co-occurring substance abuse disorders.  Included in this total is funding for renewal of rent subsidies associated with Shelter Plus Care and SHP housing.  For FY 2008, the omnibus bill includes continuation of policies that require HUD to ensure that a minimum of 30% of McKinney-Vento funds go toward permanent housing, with a 25% local match required for services. 

Homeless Veterans

The final omnibus bill includes $75 million in the HUD budget for new rental vouchers for homeless veterans as part of the VASH program for permanent supportive housing targeted chronically homeless veterans with disabilities, including serious mental illness or co-occurring substance abuse disorders.  This assistance would be made available through a joint HUD-VA program that combines housing assistance from HUD with medical and psychiatric care and other supportive services from the VA.  It is expected that this $75 million total could support as many as 10,000 units of supportive housing for homeless veterans.  Taking into account the 1.747% reduction, this total is expected to be $73.7 million.