July 27, 2017

Van Hollen Fights for Maryland in Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill

Today U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, voted to support the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies appropriations bill. It will provide funding for transportation infrastructure development, housing assistance, and community development.

"This legislation invests in our national infrastructure, affordable housing for families and seniors, and programs that strengthen our economy and help people move into the middle class," said Senator Van Hollen. "It includes critical funding for Maryland projects - from moving WMATA and the Purple Line forward, to preventing homelessness and combating lead hazards, to supporting regional airports."

The bill also includes amendments offered by Senator Van Hollen. The first urges the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to improve the development of flight paths to reduce impacts of noise, including in communities near National Airport and BWI. The second amendment directs the FAA to improve research on noise impacts, cumulative impacts from increased frequency of flights.

The legislation includes hundreds of millions of dollars to keep Maryland moving and reduce congestion, including:

  • $150 million for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), which is the full funding authorized in the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008. These federal funds are necessary for critical safety investments.
  • $2.13 billion for the Capital Investment Grant Program, which is sufficient funding for the Maryland National Capital Purple Line project. Senator Van Hollen is also pushing the Federal Transit Administration to sign the Full Funding Grant Agreement with the Maryland Transit Administration, which is the last hurdle for the Purple Line project to move forward.
  • $550 million for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant Program. TIGER is a unique, cost-effective, and competitive program that uses outcome oriented selection criteria and leverages private, state, and local investment to solve complex multimodal transportation and economic development challenges. TIGER has been used in Maryland for projects like replacing the Colgate Creek Bridge, improving Broening Highway, and expanding capacity at the Fairfield Marine Terminal at the Port of Baltimore; upgrading MD-175 near Fort Meade; and improving bus service and safety along North Avenue in Baltimore City.
  • $1.6 billion for Amtrak to continue current services, which is the level of funding authorized by the FAST Act. As the only nationwide intercity passenger rail service, Amtrak covers more than 21,300 miles of rail lines and serves 500 communities, including 40 percent of our country's rural population. Its partnerships with regional commuter rail networks, like the Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) rail system, help ease congestion on our nation's roadways.
  • Full and dedicated funding for the FAA Contract Tower Program to continue operations at the 253 FAA contract towers in Maryland and across the country, including Easton/Newnam Field, Hagerstown Regional Airport, Martin State Airport, Frederick Municipal Airport, and Salisbury-Ocean City Wicomico Regional Airport. Contract towers handle approximately 28 percent of the nation's air traffic control tower operations and are held to the same standard as federal control towers.
  • $155 million for the Essential Air Service program, which helps provide access to air service to the community around the Hagerstown Regional Airport.

It makes critical investments to provide safe and affordable housing for Marylanders, including:

  • $21.4 billion for Tennant Based Rental Assistance, which is one of the key tools the federal government has to prevent homelessness. Housing vouchers have been shown to sharply reduce homelessness and housing instability among families with children in Maryland and across the country.
  • $11.4 billion for the Project Based Section 8 Program. The program provides critical rental assistance to over 1.2 million households across the country in both urban and rural communities, in 2015 over 45,000 low-income Maryland households used Housing Choice vouchers. Nearly half of the households served by the program are headed by low-income seniors, over 25 percent are headed by women with children, and nearly 20 percent are headed by persons with disabilities.
  • $950 million for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program. The HOME Program serves as the only federal block grant program for state and local governments designed exclusively to produce affordable housing for low-income families. This level of funding will support the production of approximately 24,000 affordable housing rental and homeownership units, and provide rental assistance for nearly 7,400 families in FY 2018.In 2016, Maryland received $12.6 million in HOME funds.
  • $160 million for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban (HUD) Office of Lead Hazard Control. This office has directly addressed lead and other health hazards in nearly 420,000 homes over the last two decades through programs that treat individual units for lead hazards, improve lead safety with enforcement action, and upgrade substandard housing with healthy homes interventions. This overall funding level will support lead-based paint hazard reductions in up to 9,100 units, providing safer homes for nearly 32,300 low- and very low-income families or individuals, including over 8,400 children under the age of six. While we have made important progress on this issue, almost 4,900 Maryland children were poisoned by lead in the last decade.
  • $514 million for HUD's Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program and $155 million for the Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities program. This funding supports the development of new housing and the continuation of rental assistance for very low-income seniors and persons with disabilities.

The bill helps foster economic development and good jobs in Maryland through programs, including:

  • $3 billion in funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, which is one of the Federal government's most effective means to revitalize low and moderate-income communities across the country. CDBG funding supports homeownership, housing rehabilitation, public improvements, and economic development projects while encouraging additional local investment. In FY 2016, Maryland received $45 million from the program, including funding for Maryland's Entitlement Communities.
  • $300 million for the Maritime Security Program, which provides resources to maintain a U.S.-flag merchant fleet that can be tapped to assist the Department of Defense in time of war or national emergency. Many of the U.S.-flag carriers operate out of the Port of Baltimore, and Maryland is home to two professional schools that train union mariners.
  • $10 million for the Assistance to Small Shipyards program to help support shipyard modernization projects. Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Maryland and General Ship Repair in Baltimore, Maryland have received Small Shipyards grants in the past to upgrade their shipyards and stay competitive.