Governor and Legislature agree on biennial budget preserving critical housing and homeless programs
June 6, 2019
Earlier this week, the House and Senate passed the biennial budget (HB 7424). This budget proposes $43 billion in spending over the biennium, closes the projected $3.7 billion budget deficit, and anticipates a budget reserve fund that will grow to $2.6 billion by the end of this year.
This bill closely tracks both the Governor and the Appropriations and Finance, Revenue and Bonding committees' proposals, and preserves substantial resources necessary to address housing and homelessness. In addition, OPM will be authorized to reduce executive branch allocations in the amount of $29 million FY 20 and $26 million in FY 21 but will not affect mental health and substance abuse services.
Please note that new bond authorizations for the biennium will be taken up during a Special Session, date yet to be determined.
The budget includes the following funding levels for critical housing services:
Department of Housing
- Funding for the Housing/Homeless Services at $80.4 million in FY 20 and $85.8 million in FY 21. This includes funding for a new Medicaid Supportive Housing Benefit for High Cost High Need Individuals, Rental Assistance Vouchers (RAPs) for DSS' long term care rebalancing strategy, Money Follows the Person (MFP) caseload growth, the annualization of RAPs, and COLA's for private providers of housing and homeless youth services.
- Preservation of the Homeless Youth funding at $2.3 million each year.
- This budget maintains the current Community Investment Account (CIA) allocation process: DOH will receive quarterly allocations to supplement new or existing affordable housing programs, with no statutory set aside for Coordinated Access Networks or 2-1-1.
Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services
- Housing Supports/Services maintained at $23 million for each year.
- Young Adults Services funded at $76.7 million in FY 20 and $78.0 million in FY 21.
- Grants for Mental Health Services at $66.3 million in each year of the biennium; $1.4 million above the Governor's budget.
Department of Development Services
- Housing Supports/Services at $350,000 for FY 20 and $1.4 million for FY 21.
Department of Social Services
- Medicaid Supportive Housing Benefit for high cost high need individuals (see also DOH), to reflect a Medicaid savings of $2.7 million in FY 20 and $13.9 million in FY 21.
- Strengthening of Rebalancing Efforts under Money Follows the Person (see also DOH).
- Rental Assistance Vouchers to support Long-Term Care Rebalancing Strategy (see also DOH).
Department of Correction
- Funds to expand the Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) program for substance abuse disorders at $2.05 million for FY 20 and $6 million for FY 21.
- Waives fees for State-issued IDs for the re-entry population, at $229,950 each year.
Office of Early Childhood
- Care4Kids funded at $54.6 million for FY 20 and $59.5 million in FY 21.
Department of Children and Families
- Rental Assistance Program Vouchers for Family Reunification, requiring quarterly reporting to relevant committees on waitlist, outcomes, and number of families in the program (see also DOH).
Department of Transportation
- Provides $92,520 for each year for 60-day bus passes to discharged offenders.
Department of Labor
- Provides $800,000 each year for the Bridgeport Re-Entry Pilot for the long-term unemployed.
Additionally, this budget:
- Does not cap the amount by which a utility company may reduce its utility tax liability using state tax credits at 50.01% (i.e. state Housing Tax Credit Contribution program administered by CHFA). The Governor's budget had included this cap.
- Creates a new quasi-state agency, Connecticut Municipal Redevelopment Authority, with broad authority to stimulate economic and Transit Oriented Development.
- Establishes the "Partnership for CT, Inc.," a non-profit organization with financial support from Dalio Philanthropies and the state, with the goal to strengthen public education, engage at-risk youth/young adults in educational and career opportunities, and support economic development in under-resourced communities with high poverty rates and disconnected youth.
- Extends indefinitely the requirement that certain municipalities waive payments in lieu of property taxes (PILOTs) from certain state-financed housing authorities.
HB 7313 An Act Concerning Homeless Students' Access to Education passed the legislature last night. This bill specifically permits unaccompanied and homeless youth to attend or enroll in their school of choice while an appeals process is pending, with the burden of proof on the party claiming ineligibility. We look forward to working with many of you on next steps over the coming weeks, months and years to help ensure this legislation achieves maximum impact. Stay tuned!
HB 7277 An Act Concerning the Creation of Land Bank Authorities and HB 1070 An Act Concerning Abandoned and Blighted Property Stewardship both passed. The Partnership has been tracking these two bills this session, they are potentially useful tools in expanding affordable housing. We look forward to sharing more with you on this topic in the future.
Unfortunately, HB 6749 An Act to Reorganize the Zoning Enabling Act and Promote Municipal Compliance did not pass. This bill was a product of the Fair Housing Working group and would have required municipal regulations to promote affordable housing in accordance with the Fair Housing Act, remove the "characteristic of the community" as a basis upon which a town can reject a development application, and create a new group to provide guidance to towns on how to complete their affordable housing plans in accordance with existing law. We will be regrouping with the Fair Housing Working group for future efforts.