Congresswoman Laura Richardson announced today that the Appropriations Bill for fiscal year 2013 considered by the full House this week substantially funds nine of her major legislative priorities in the areas of transportation and housing and urban development.
"I extend my appreciation to Chairman Latham and Ranking Member Olver for their careful consideration of my appropriations requests," said Congresswoman Richardson, adding, "I believe this funding will make a real difference in boosting the economy and improving the lives of vulnerable communities, including indigenous populations, veterans, and American seniors." The following funding requests submitted by Congresswoman Richardson were approved and incorporated in the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill:
1. Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program. The Committee recommended $3.344 billion, which was $44 million above the Congresswoman's request. CDBG is the centerpiece of the federal government s efforts to help more than 1200 cities, counties and states meet the needs of their low and moderate-income people and communities. It revitalizes communities - with proven results. CDBG helps fund a wide range of activities including housing investments, public infrastructure improvements, public services, and local economic development projects where the private market is absent.
2. Fair Housing Initiatives Program. The Committee recommended $42.5 million, the amount requested by Congresswoman Richardson to maintain funding at FY2012 levels. FHIP is a competitive grant program and is the primary source of funding for fair housing education and enforcement activities at the local level. Local fair housing organizations funded by FHIP protect the housing rights of the public and educate people about their fair housing rights. The program is vital given the extreme fragility that currently exists in the housing market.
3. Tenant Based Rental Assistance Program. The Committee recommended approximately $19.1 billion for this program, or $60 million above the Congresswoman's request. HUD's Section 8 programs help low-income elderly, families with children, and people with disabilities secure and maintain decent, affordable homes. In both urban and rural communities, Section 8 rental assistance provides the foundation for millions of individuals and families to live with dignity, maintain steady work, and improve the lives of their children.
4. Community Planning and Development Grant Program. The Committee recommended $103.5 million. Although this was slightly below Congresswoman Richardson's request, it exceeded the FY12 level of funding by $3.5 million. HUD's The Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD) seeks to develop viable communities by promoting integrated approaches that provide decent housing, a suitable living environment, and expand economic opportunities for low and moderate income persons. The primary means towards this end is the development of partnerships among all levels of government and the private sector, including for-profit and non-profit organizations.
5. Indian Community Development Block Grant. The Committee recommended $60 million for these grants, the amount requested by Congresswoman Richardson. The Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG) program provides competitive grants to Indian tribes and Alaska Native villages for housing, community facilities, and economic development. ICDGB funds community infrastructure like roads and sewer systems that improve the quality of available housing units while making new housing more affordable and accessible.
6. Native American Housing Block Grants. The Committee recommended $650 million for these grants, the amount requested by Congresswoman Richardson. Indian Housing Block Grants go directly to tribally designated housing entities (TDHEs) for housing development, housing services for eligible families, crime prevention and safety, and demonstration projects that provide creative approaches to solving affordable housing shortages. TDHEs must submit an Indian Housing Plan each year they receive funding, followed by an end-of-year Annual Performance Report to report on progress towards meeting their goals.
7. HUD-VASH Program. The Committee recommended $75 million, the amount requested by Congresswoman Richardson. HUD--VASH is the only program that supports the permanent housing and rehabilitation of homeless veterans. HUD-VASH is a joint HUD and VA initiative that provides specially designated Section 8 "Housing Choice" vouchers, case management, and supportive services to homeless veterans. Vouchers are used to assist with the payment of rent for veterans and their families. The goal of the program is to support veterans' permanent housing in the community.
8. Maritime Security Program. The Committee recommended $184 million, the amount requested by Congresswoman Richardson, which represents a $10 million increase over FY2012 funding levels. The Maritime Security Program ensures that the United States has the U.S.-flag commercial sealift capability and trained U.S. citizen merchant mariners available to crew the government and privately-owned vessels needed by the Department of Defense in time of war or other international emergency.
9. Housing for the Elderly (Section 202) Capital Advance Program. The Committee exceeded Congresswoman Richardson's request for funding by allocating $425 million. Capital advances finance construction, rehabilitation, or acquisition of structures that will serve as supportive housing for very low-income elderly persons. Section 202 provides rent subsidies for projects to help keep them affordable for these vulnerable populations. We recommend reinstating funding to allow affordable special needs housing developers to provide supportive housing options for the elderly, particularly within AANHPI enclaves.
Congresswoman Richardson serves on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and her district is home to some of the busiest freeways, railways and ports in the nation. Congresswoman Richardson has tirelessly worked to improve the security and upkeep of infrastructure and transportation systems to keep our economy competitive and to create needed jobs.
Congresswoman Richardson has also advocated on behalf of economically-disadvantaged communities, and this appropriations bill includes key provisions that will safeguard their housing and overall wellbeing. She has championed a wide variety of grants and community development programs, many of which were fully funded in this year's legislation.