President Joe Biden's infrastructure proposal includes $213 billion to build and retrofit more than 2 million affordable housing units, a step toward his campaign promise to increase access to affordable housing.
Biden's proposal calls on Congress to pass the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act, which offers $20 billion worth of tax credits over the next five years to build and rehabilitate about 500,000 homes.
Biden also wants $40 billion to improve public housing. Housing experts say that at least $70 billion in repairs are needed.
Biden's proposal is a step in the right direction, said Sarah Saadian, the National Low Income Housing Coalition's vice president of public policy. But because Biden leaves the details up to Congress, she said, "it's hard to know exactly what the outcomes would be."
U.S. lawmakers discussed various housing bills at an April hearing, including the Restoring Communities Left Behind Act. It would establish a $5 billion grant program each year for a decade toward the purchase and redevelopment of vacant, abandoned or distressed properties for housing.
U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., plans to reintroduce the Housing Is Infrastructure Act to authorize over $200 billion in new funding, too.
Biden proposes using incentives, such as grants for jurisdictions that eliminate barriers to building affordable housing.
The U.S. faced a shortage of affordable housing before the pandemic, but it has been exacerbated by the resulting economic decline and job losses.
"Without affordable options, 10 million very low-income households spent more than half of their limited incomes on rent and utilities, leaving them one financial shock away from missing rent and facing eviction or in worse cases, homelessness," Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, told the House Financial Services Committee April 14.
The American Rescue Plan that Biden signed into law in March includes nearly $50 billion in housing and homelessness assistance, largely for temporary emergencies.
We will have to see if Congress passes legislation or a budget that fulfills Biden's promise to establish a $100 billion affordable housing fund to construction and upgrade housing. For now, we rate this promise In the Works.
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