New Administration Offers New Hope for Healthy Housing
by Sarah Goodwin and Darcy Scott
With a change in administration comes a change in priorities, and what a difference this change makes for healthy homes. President Biden’s 2022 budget request, submitted last week, is a breath of fresh air. After four years of presidential requests that threatened to decimate the programs that we rely on to provide recourse for those who are attempting to improve their housing health or money made available for remediation of damage done to citizens who have been damaged by unhealthy homes, the new administration has laid down the first deposit on growth in these vital line items. Most of the programs we track received at least minor funding increases.
But as we have learned from past budgeting exercises, the president’s budget request is a suggestion, not a mandate. Therefore, the National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition (NSHHC) is once again writing to House and Senate offices to provide our best guidance on the amount of money that should be going to these programs to make it possible for them to live up to their potential. You can read the letters here and add your name here.
We are in agreement with Secretary Marsha Fudge – housing is infrastructure. With that in mind, the National Center for Healthy Housing has also shepherded a letter to House and Senate offices requesting healthy housing funds – namely window replacement – be part of any larger infrastructure package that gets developed.
Below are the programs NCHH tracks and the funding levels the administration has suggested.
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Increased: Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes. The president’s budget for the Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes (OLHCHH) is $400 million, representing a $40 million increase over FY21. We are particularly excited to see that this request includes $85 million for the Healthy Homes Program, an increase of $25 million. The budget targets funding specifically for home modifications for older adults and radon testing and mitigation. Overall, this represents a good step towards the NSHHC’s request of $606 million for this office.
Significantly increased: HOME Investment Partnerships Program. The budget includes $1.85 billion for this program, which supports building, buying, and rehabilitating affordable housing. This would be a $500 million increase over FY21.
It’s complicated: Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program. The budget includes $3.77 billion for this program, which supports many different activities at the state and local levels and is often used as match funding for HUD lead and healthy homes grants. This would be a $295 million increase over the FY21 level. The new funding would all go to targeted revitalization activities in communities that have been historically underserved and experience persistent or concentrated poverty, with the formula grants for states and localities seeing a slight decrease from FY21.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Increased: the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. The budget includes $46 million for this program, which would be an increase of $7 million over FY21 and the highest ever appropriation for this program. The NSHHC is requesting $100 million for this program.
Level: the National Asthma Control Program (currently at $30 million), the National Environmental Public Health Tracking Program (currently at $34 million), and the Environmental Health Laboratory (currently at $67.75 million). All of these programs are funded at their FY21 levels in the president’s budget. While it is an improvement over last year’s budget to see this request rather than a request that these programs be slashed, more funding is needed to allow these programs to serve more states and communities. The NSHHC is requesting increases for both the asthma and tracking programs.
Learn more about CDC’s valuable programs and services with NCHH’s Healthy Housing Agency fact sheet. NCHH has also created a fact sheet for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), CDC’s parent agency.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Slightly increased: All of the programs we track at EPA saw minor increases in this budget, ranging in size from just the tens of thousands to a couple million dollars.
- Indoor Air: Radon Program: This program saw the smallest increase at just $31,000, bringing it to $3.2 million.
- Reduce Risks from Indoor Air: The budget includes $13.8 million for this program, an increase of about $2 million over FY21.
- Children and Other Sensitive Populations: The budget increases this program by $74,000 to $6.2 million.
- Lead Risk Reduction Program: The budget increases this program by $256,000, to $13.8 million.
- Categorical Grants: Lead: The budget includes $14.6 million for these grants, an increase of $286,000, roughly the same size as last year’s increase.
- Categorical Grants: Radon: The budget includes $8.9 million for these grants, an increase of about $1.1 million.
It’s encouraging to see that this budget does not advocate for eliminating or slashing these programs, as we’ve seen in the past several years, but these programs have been stagnantly funded for years, and there’s a lot of work needed to support EPA’s healthy housing work and ensure it has the funding it needs to be most effective. The NSHHC is requesting larger increases for all of these programs.
Department of Energy (DOE)
Significantly increased: Weatherization Assistance Program. The budget includes a 25% increase for this program, bringing it to $390 million. The request also doubles the budget for training and technical assistance from $5 million to $10 million.
Significantly increased: Building Technologies. The budget includes a 31.7% increase for this program, up to $382 million. Within this program, NCHH tracks the Residential Buildings Integration program, which provides funding for industry partnerships, research and development, and incentives for homeowners. The funding level for Residential Buildings Integration is not yet available.
Impact on State Funding
Two years ago, we reported that 10 out of the 11 programs we include on our state healthy housing fact sheets would have been slashed or eliminated by the FY20 President’s Budget. This year, the situation has reversed, with nine out of 11 programs receiving at least minor increases.
|Program||FY21 Approved||FY22 – Proposed||% Change|
|CDC Environmental Health Tracking||$34M||$34M||0%|
|CDC Lead Poisoning Prevention||$39M||$46M||+17%|
|CDC National Asthma Control Program||$30M||$30M||0%|
|DOE Weatherization Assistance||$310M||$390M||+25.8%|
|EPA Lead Categorical Grants||$14.27M||$14.56M||+2%|
|EPA Radon Categorical Grants||$7.79M||$8.95M||+14.8%|
|HHS Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program||$3.75B||$3.85B||+2.6%|
|HRSA Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant Program||$712.7M||$822.7M||+15.4%|
|HUD Community Development Block Grants||$3.47B||$3.7B||+8.4%|
|HUD Home Investment Partnerships Program||$1.35B||$1.85B||+27%|
|HUD Lead Poisoning Prevention and Healthy Homes Program||$360M||$400M||+11.1%|
The National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition will do all it can to convince Congress to take up the baton from this budget and follow through on increases for the programs we care about, including those where the president’s budget is not enough to meet the need we are all too familiar with. If you’d like to help us in that effort, please join the Coalition’s distribution list and add your name to our FY 2022 appropriation letters, which will be sent to members of Congress.
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.