SCANPH members and our allies in Southern California sent 588 emails to both our California Senators and their staff (as well as a few to Washington and Hawaii states as well) requesting full funding for HOME. 128 individuals participated in our online action and we strongly believe many of them made phone calls as well. Housing California estimates that 200 hundreds calls were made to Senator Feinstein's office alone, showing strong support statewide for full funding of the HOME program.
HOME is a highly successful, locally-driven block grant program that helps fund down payment assistance for low-income homebuyers and provides gap financing to develop and preserve affordable rental housing. The program is exclusively focused on serving low-income families, with more than half of all funding directed to very and extremely low-income individuals. Moreover, HOME works in urban, suburban, and rural communities in all 50 states.
In Los Angeles, HOME funds are critical to help fund the City's Affordable Housing Trust Fund helping to alleviate the shortage of affordable homes. In addition, HOME funds help to fund city housing department services that fund programs that serve the homeless. Cuts to HOME will adversely effect every California resident with less affordable homes and increased homelessness.
Despite the increasing need for affordable homes, both the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Subcommittee and the Senate Appropriations Committee have proposed to cut funding for the HOME Investment Partnerships program (HOME) by a staggering 93% from $900 million to just $66 million, all but eliminating the program. The Subcommittee passed the bill on June 23 by a voice vote. The full Committee passed the bill on June 25 by a vote of 20 to 10. Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Brian Schatz (D-HI) voted with all 16 Committee Republicans in support of the bill.
Earlier the House has proposed $767 million in HOME funding, which is $133 million below the current fiscal year funding. The House has directed the $133 million scheduled for the National Housing Trust Fund to be transferred to the HOME program, which would eliminate funding for the trust fund. Both the House and the Senate will be hashing out differences in their budgets in a conference committee.
According to HUD, if HOME is zeroed out for FY16 and not funded at President Barack Obama’s requested level of $1.06 billion, there would be a loss of an estimated 38,665 affordable housing units (16,045 homebuyer units, 15,099 new or rehabilitated rental units, and 7,521 rehabilitated owner-occupied homes), and 8,813 fewer families would be assisted with HOME tenant-based rental assistance.
HUD Secretary Julian Castro also expressed his displeasure at the low funding level for the HOME program. In an official statement he said: “HOME funds are often the first funds into new Low Income Housing Tax Credit developments, providing important capital for efforts that serve low-income veterans, seniors and the homeless. For more than 20 years, Congress has funded this program, producing 1.2 million affordable housing units, but funding has been cut 50% in the last five years. This trend must not continue. It’s time for Congress to invest in our nation’s people, communities and future.”