December 22, 2010
The 111th Congress is expected to reach final adjournment today after passing a temporary extension of current FY 2010 discretionary spending levels through March 4, 2011 and passing landmark legislation to reform the HUD Section 811 program that develops supportive housing for non-elderly adults living with serious mental illness and other disabilities.
Extension of Current Funding Levels Enacted
Immediately prior to adjournment, Congress sent to the President a two-month extension of current FY 2010 spending levels for nearly all federal agency budgets. This new “continuing resolution” keeps current funding levels in place through March 4, 2011, at which time the new Congress will be responsible for passing legislation to fund the government for the remaining months of FY 2011.
This extended “continuing resolution” follows rejection in the Senate last week of the FY 2011 “omnibus” appropriations bill that would have enacted full-year funding for all federal programs and agencies, including mental illness research and services, housing and veterans programs. Included in the Senate omnibus funding bill were critical increases for mental illness research ($48 million for the NIMH) and a new demonstration program focused on chronic homelessness (as much as $102 million spread across HUD and SAMHSA).
When the new Congress convenes in January, it is expected that the House will seek to cut most non-defense programs back to their FY 2008 levels. This could result in cuts as high as seven percent for mental illness research at NIMH, and even deeper cuts to programs at HUD such as the McKinney-Vento homeless programs and Section 811.
Read additional information on the impact of keeping current FY 2010 funding levels in place.
Supportive Housing Legislation Sent to the White House
On December 21, 2010, the House gave final approval to the Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act (S 1481), sending it on to the White House where President Obama is expected to sign it into law soon. The action by the House follows passage by the Senate on December 17. S 1481 is designed to make long overdue reforms to the HUD Section 811 program -- the only federal program dedicated to the development of supportive housing targeted to non-elderly people with severe disabilities.
HUD Section 811 provides capital advance grants to non-profit sponsors to develop congregate and scattered site supportive housing in the community. It also provides funding for operating subsidies ensuring that rents are affordable for people with disabilities with extremely low incomes, including those living on SSI. As a result of cumbersome federal rules and reliance on outdated models, Section 811 has failed to keep pace with trends in supportive housing development. S 1481 will make a number of improvements to the Section 811 program by:
• Modernizing and simplifying the capital advance program for non-profit sponsors;
• Integrating supportive housing for people with disabilities into larger multi-family affordable rental housing developments;
• Protecting an existing tenant-based program targeted to people living with disabilities; and
• Creating an innovative subsidy approach which will allow states to leverage additional capital funds for the creation of new units of supportive housing.
This important legislation is named in honor of the late Frank Melville, a long-time member of NAMI Connecticut and the first Board Chair of the Melville Charitable Trust. Frank Melville and the entire Melville Charitable Trust family have been national leaders in promoting supportive housing as a highly successful and cost effective best practice which can prevent and end unnecessary institutionalization and homelessness among people with the most significant and long-term disabilities.
NAMI is extremely grateful for the leadership of key leaders in Congress that made passage of S 1481 possible. These include lead sponsors Representatives Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Judy Biggert (R-IL) and Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Mike Johanns (R-NE). NAMI is also appreciative of the leadership of House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) and Ranking Member Spencer Bachus (R-AL) and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL).
Additional information on S 1481 is available at http://www.tacinc.org/Program_Policy/Sect811_legisltn.html.
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