The Omnibus legislation funding the Federal Government for Fiscal Year 2016 that was approved by Congress last week, and signed by President Obama, included wide-ranging provisions that touched many aspects of the multifamily industry from housing finance reform to assisted housing to research related Census data.
The funding measure included language that would prohibit the sale of Treasury-owned senior preferred shares in the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, without congressional approval until 2017. This language, previously contained in the “JUMPSTART GSE Reform Act,” effectively halts GSE reform through the regulatory process and retains Congress’s role in what ultimately happens to the GSEs for two years. However, many in Washington remain skeptical as to whether GSE reform is even possible in that two year window, potentially rendering the language mute.
Section 8 and HOME
On the assisted housing front, Congress approved funding to renew all existing Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers and Section 8 Project Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) vouchers currently in use. In addition, the legislation actually increases funding for the HOME Investment Partnership (HOME) program, eviscerated during initial debate in Congress.
American Community Survey
The final bill also included funding for the 2020 Census and the American Community Survey (ACS), providing more funding than initially approved by Congress, and eliminating a provision that would have made responses to the ACS voluntary. Allowing the ACS to be voluntary would have been detrimental to NMHC/NAA’s ability assess apartment industry market conditions and estimate the industry’s economic impact.
NMHC/NAA weighed in heavily supporting funding for the Section 8 Voucher programs, the HOME program and funding for the Census.