WASHINGTON - House and Senate conferees may modify their decision to give $1.275 billion to the HOME program in 1994 by taking away as much as $200 million for an initiative to aid the homeless, housing lobbyists said yesterday.
The book on 1994 HOME money appeared to be closed last Friday when the conferees completed action on the overall appropriations measure for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and other agencies. But the conferees got an unexpected opportunity to make changes when the House voted on Wednesday not to debate the bill.
House members were rebelling against the conferees' decision to include funding in the bill for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to develop a new type of solid rocket booster for the space shuttle. The 305-to-123 vote against the rules for debate sent the appropriations bill back to the conference committee.
As the fight was brewing over the NASA funding, a separate congressional committee gave HUD authorization to move forward with a proposal it had made for aiding the homeless. But that authorization came too late for the conferees to make room for the homeless program in the appropriations bill last week.
Now, however, with the appropriations measure back in the conference committee, the conferees will have a chance to fund the homeless initiative, but they will have to cut somewhere else to do it. Some housing lobbyists said they were worried that some or all of the $200 million HUD wants for the homeless program will come out of the $1.275 billion for HOME.
Aides to the House and Senate appropriations committees said they did not expect the conferees to meet on the bill until next week.
The HOME program, created in 1990, requires the federal government to match contributions that state and local governments make to low-income rental and home-ownership projects.
Contributions that are eligible for federal matching funds include a state or locality's general obligation housing bonds as well as a portion of its multifamily and mortgage revenue bond issues.
The HOME program's 1993 appropriation was $1 billion. In June the House approved $1.25 billion for HOME in 1994, while the Senate last month approved legislation to give the program $1.275 billion.