The Pathways to Removing Obstacles to Housing Program (PRO-Housing) found success across Capitol Hill these past two weeks, earning bipartisan support in the House and in the Senate. This recent bipartisan action increases the likelihood that funding will continue for a second year, and perhaps grow, in FY24.
Federal support for zoning reform cleared an important hurdle last week when the Senate overwhelmingly passed a suite of spending bills including $100 million for the APA-endorsed PRO-Housing Program — a $15 million increase over fiscal year (FY) 2023 spending levels. The spending package, led by Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) passed in the Senate on November 1, 2023, by a vote of 82-15. Sen. Schatz has been a leader on federal efforts to address the housing crisis.
This week, Rep. Lisa Blunt-Rochester (D-DE) offered an amendment to the House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act which added $100 million in funding to the HUD budget for the PRO-Housing Grant program. While final passage of HR4820 is delayed, Rep. Blunt-Rochester's amendment was adopted with strong bipartisan support on November 7, 2023, by a vote of 238 to 185 and will be included in the final version on the House floor. Rep. Blunt-Rochester has been the leading House champion for the Housing Supply and Affordability Act, which would formally authorize PRO-Housing grants.
Once the House takes final action, the House and the Senate must reach an agreement on final HUD spending before the current continuing resolution expires next week. The solid bipartisan endorsement of a new round of funding for PRO-Housing grants creates important momentum for including the program in the final package.
What is the PRO-Housing program?
The PRO-Housing Program provides support and technical assistance to state and local governments and metropolitan planning organizations serious about boosting housing supply and lowering housing costs. Eligible uses for funds are flexible to accommodate communities of all sizes, and can support reform efforts, ranging from relaxing parking requirements to planning for higher density housing options.
The application window for this year closed on November 6, 2023. Grant announcements are expected to be made prior to the end of the year.
James Eldridge, AICP, (left) at APA's Congressional Fly-In in September advocating for federal incentives and assistance to expand planning capacity for locally led zoning reform through the PRO-Housing Grant Program.
Planners Impact Federal Legislation
The program aims to help local governments develop and implement policies that create and preserve housing options by breaking down barriers to zoning reform. The PRO-Housing Program is a direct result of planners' advocacy to secure federal investment for zoning reform in recent years. Zoning reform has appeal across the political spectrum that is making legislative advances in a divided Congress. The victories these past two weeks demonstrate the impact of planners on federal policy and funding and the unification of a bipartisan legislature behind zoning reform.
Zoning reform is among the American Planning Association's top policy priorities. Throughout the year, APA has prioritized increasing awareness and support for federal action with assistance and encouragement from state and local planners across the nation. In September, APA hosted the annual Congressional Fly-In where top advocates from around the country flew to Washington, D.C., to advocate for federal action on zoning reform. The impacts of this advocacy are still ongoing and have played a large role in the success of the PRO-Housing grant program this month.
Arlova Vonhm, AICP, (left) talks with a member of Sen. Warner's staff about the need for a second year of funding for the PRO-Housing Program.
Top image: iStock / Getty Images Plus – blackestockphoto
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sophia Flionis is APA's public affairs consultant.