Republican Proposal Would Rescind Funds That Make Public Housing Safe for Residents

The Henry Rutgers Houses, a public housing development built and maintained by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), stand in in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, April 26, 2018 in New York City. (Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images)The Henry Rutgers Houses, a public housing development built and maintained by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), stand in in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, April 26, 2018 in New York City. (Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

rescission bill from House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy would cut $38.8 million from the public housing capital fund, which helps more than 2 million seniors, people with disabilities, children, and other vulnerable people live in decent, safe, and sanitary housing. These funds also give public housing residents access to job training programs, which help raise their earnings. This rescission would reverse bipartisan congressional action in the 2018 government funding bill that wisely invested more than $800 million in new funding for these purposes, recognizing the program’s substantial unmet needs.

Public housing agencies (PHAs) use capital funds mainly for longer-term investments to maintain their housing stock. Due to the long-term nature of these investments and the considerable time needed to appropriately allocate the resources, federal law lets PHAs spend their annual appropriation over multiple years. The McCarthy proposal would rescind $23 million in unobligated funds, meant for renovations, that were appropriated from fiscal years 2015-2017. PHAs can still use at least $21.9 million of that $23 million to remediate mold, make units accessible to disabled families, improve heating and cooling systems, and similar purposes.

President Trump’s rescission proposal to Congress — which was the precursor to the McCarthy proposal — freezes some capital funds that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) had not yet awarded to PHAs. Congress should reject any rescissions to the public housing capital fund. HUD should award these funds to PHAs, and the PHAs should then be able to put them to use. (Funds already awarded to PHAs through HUD’s accounting system are unaffected by the rescission proposals.)

The effects of…

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