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House Subcommittee Votes to Eliminate the National Housing Trust Fund
WASHINGTON - July 13 - In a vote of 18-14, the Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises subcommittee of the House Finance Committee voted yesterday to eliminate the National Housing Trust Fund.
The National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) was established in 2008 and is intended to provide communities with funds to build, preserve, and rehabilitate rental homes that are affordable for extremely low income and very low income households. The NHTF has not yet been capitalized, though the legislation that created the National Housing Trust Fund was part of reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and directed the two GSEs to make contributions to the NHTF.
H.R. 2441, the Housing Trust Fund Elimination Act, was introduced by Representative Edward Royce (R-CA) and was met with two hours of heated debate. In making the case for the elimination of the NHTF, Mr. Royce claimed that the program is duplicative of other affordable housing programs. But more central to his argument for elimination was the contention that the National Housing Trust Fund would have “a great potential for fraud” and is not a necessary program.
“This is a tired argument with no basis in reality,” said Sheila Crowley, President & CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition and a spokesperson for the National Housing Trust Fund Campaign. “The National Housing Trust Fund is, in fact, the only federal program that will exclusively serve the housing needs of the lowest income people in the United States. There is great need for the program, and regulations have been put in place to ensure efficiency and accountability.”
Representative Al Green (D-TX) introduced an amendment he termed a “compromise,” which would preserve the NHTF but separate it from the housing GSEs, the original funding source for the NHTF in the authorizing legislation. In introducing his amendment, Mr. Green noted that “slashing programs that benefit poor people will not make them go away.” His amendment was rejected 17-15.
While Republican members of the subcommittee focused their comments on the existence of other federal housing programs and the threat of corruption, Democrats focused on the deep need for affordable housing in the United States. Many noted that according to a HUD report, there are 7 million American households experiencing worst case housing needs.
“It is disappointing to all of us who understand the pervasive housing need in this country to see lawmakers vote to eliminate a program before it has even been given the chance to work,” said Ms. Crowley.