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Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. RICHARDSON. Mr. Chair, later this week, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 5972, the Transportation & Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Art for Fiscal Year 2013. This bill funds the agencies that address our nation's housing and transportation needs, and is one of the most important pieces of legislation the House will consider this year. The THUD bill represents a tremendous opportunity to improve our economic competitiveness and ensure the wellbeing of working Americans, and I rise to offer some preliminary observations on the bill that will be debated over the next several days.

I serve as a proud Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and my home district is home to some of the busiest freeways, railways and ports in the country. I also have the privilege of representing many economically disadvantaged individuals who benefit from the fair housing initiatives and grant programs covered in this bill.

I have long advocated, and will continue to advocate, on behalf of the 37th Congressional District of California for an enlightened transportation policy that will position the United States to compete and win in the global economy of the 21st Century. Since many amendments will have to be considered before the vote on final passage, I am reserving my final judgment as to how I will cast my vote. Nevertheless, I would like to take a moment to commend Mr. LATHAM and Mr. OLVER, the Chair and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee, for their work, including nine major funding requests that I submitted to the Committee in the bill reported to the House. Specifically the bill includes the following:

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program. CDBG is the centerpiece of the federal governments 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. The Committee recommended $3.344 billion, which was $44 million above my request.

Fair Housing Initiatives Program. 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. The Committee met my request by continuing funding at the FY12 level of $42.5 million.

Tenant Based Rental Assistance Program. 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. The Committee recommended approximately $19.1 billion for this program, or $60 million above my request.

Community Planning and Development from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. 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. The Committee recommended $103.5 million. Although this was slightly below my request, it exceeded the FY12 level of funding by $3.5 million.
Indian Community Development Block Grant. 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. The Committee met my request of $60 million.

Native American Housing Block Grants. 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. The Committee recommended $650 million for these grants, thereby meeting my request.

HUD-VASH Program. 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. The Committee's recommendation was equal to my request of $75 million.

Maritime Security Program. 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. The Committee matched my request of $184 million, which increased funding over FY12 levels by $10 million.

Housing for the Elderly (Section 202) Capital Advance Program. 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. The Committee exceeded my request for funding by allocating $425 million.

Mr. Chair, I again extend my sincere thanks to Chairman LATHAM and Ranking Member OLVER for their careful consideration of my appropriations requests. While I reserve my final judgment on this bill, I do believe that the full funding of these programs and departments will make a real difference in boosting the economy and improving the lives of vulnerable communities.


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