The FY18 Omnibus: Thank You for Your Support of Healthy Housing Programs
by Darcy Scott and Sarah Goodwin
Over the last two days, the House and Senate passed the FY18 omnibus bill, containing milestone funding increases for lead poisoning prevention and healthy homes. And this afternoon, the president signed off on the bill.
Thanks to the collective hard work of all of you with organizations and individuals who signed on to the National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition’s (Coalition) letters, sent messages to your members of Congress, and brought up the issue in your communities, Congress acted to provide significant support to healthy homes programs across the agencies, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), that help Americans ensure safer home environments. Thanks to the House and Senate members who have championed this issue over the years and have done what they can to stabilize effective programs during the years of the Budget Control Act, which provided significant restraints to growth in agencies across the federal budget. But this newly passed appropriation meets the needs you’ve been highlighting and sets us on the path to better addressing the needs of our children and all Americans.
What’s in the Bill?
The FY18 omnibus appropriations bill includes:
- Huge wins for lead poisoning prevention work at HUD and CDC:
- $230 million for HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes, including $45 million for healthy homes programs. This is a number the National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition has requested for years, based on the Presidential Task Force’s recommendation in 2000. It represents an $85 million increase over FY17.
- $35 million for CDC’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. This is an increase of $18 million over FY17, and it restores the program to the level of funding it had before its near-elimination in FY12.
- Level funding for CDC’s National Asthma Control Program and National Environmental Health Tracking Network.
- Level funding for healthy homes programs at EPA, counter to presidential requests for elimination.
- Increases for other important programs, including Community Development Block Grants (a gain of $300 million), HOME Investment Partnerships (a gain of $412 million), the Low Income Housing Energy Assistance Program (a gain of $250 million), and the Weatherization Assistance Program (a gain of $23 million). The Weatherization Assistance Program provides funding to low-income families and seniors who want to make home repairs that improve energy efficiency and health. The Building Technologies Office, which conducts research on indoor environmental quality, also received additional funding.
The Coalition has sent multiple letters to appropriators in Congress endorsing higher funding for these programs, the most recent of which was a sign-on letter in November 2017. Many individual organizations, including NCHH, have continued to advocate for these numbers in their own communications with key members of Congress over the last month. Strong, effective advocacy has always been an important part of the healthy homes story, and today’s good budgetary news is evidence of our collective impact.
So what’s next? Stay tuned for a letter asking Congress to keep up its commitment in the 2019 budget!
Darcy Scott, NCHH Senior Policy Advisor, has been engaged in federal advocacy efforts for over 15 years. She has worked with a number of large-scale organizations, such as the ACLU and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, to influence legislators through public engagement. Ms. Scott ran the government affairs department at M+R Strategic Services, leveraging the power of organizations and coalitions to influence the legislative process, and her consulting clients include Habitat for Humanity International and United Way Worldwide. Ms. Scott holds an undergraduate degree from Southern Methodist University and a graduate degree from Northwestern University.
Sarah Goodwin joined NCHH as a Policy Analyst in June 2017. She previously served NCHH as a policy intern, helping to establish and run the Find It, Fix It, Fund It lead action drive and its work groups. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies: Communications, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government from American University.