By Mike Wallace
For the second year in a row, the nation's largest housing and transportation advocates joined NLC and other local government groups to spearhead a letter to Congress urging increased funding for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) in the federal budget.
In the letter, 188 national groups and 2,234 state and local groups, including many cities and towns, urged Congressional Appropriators to "increase the 302(b) allocation to the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) to the highest possible level in fiscal year (FY) 2014." The language of the request reflects the federal budgeting process of allocating all federal funding through 12 categories which are represented by the 12 Appropriations Subcommittees. Although each subcommittee funds programs important to cities and towns, the funding available for many of our highest priority programs, such as CDBG and public transit grants, and popular programs like sustainable development and TIGER grants, is determined by the 302b funding allocation for the Departments of Transportation and Housing.
Many credited last year's letter, which was signed by 700 fewer organizations, with helping Senate THUD Subcommittee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) hold the line against steeper cuts sought by the House.
This year's signers hope the letter will similarly influence lawmakers, including the new Chair of the full Senate Appropriation Committee Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) by arguing "Even before sequestration, the FY 2013 302(b) allocation ($51.8 billion in budget authority) was 24 percent less than the FY 2010 enacted level ($67.9 billion). Because of these cuts, more than 140,000 road, bridge, and transit projects have been put in jeopardy at the cost of hundreds of thousands of jobs; federal support for the production and preservation of affordable housing has been slashed, which is likely to result in more than 100,000 low-income families losing rental assistance and recent progress in reducing chronic homelessness being reversed."
The letter and full list of signers can be viewed here.