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Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman April 21, 2021

Infrastructure proposal includes $213 billion for housing

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.

RELATED: Fact-checking Joe Biden on the American Rescue Plan

RELATED: Is housing unaffordable for full-time minimum-wage workers in 99 percent of counties in America?

Our Sources

U.S. House Committee on Financial Services, Waters at Infrastructure Hearing: We Have Momentum for Serious, Equitable Investments in Our Housing System, April 14, 2021

Memo to House Committee on Financial Services about affordable housing infrastructure, April 9, 2021

White House, Fact sheet, March 31, 2021

Congress.gov, H.R.1319 - American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, March 11, 2021

Congress.gov, H.R.816 - Restoring Communities Left Behind Act, Feb. 4, 2021

Public Housing Authorities Directors Association, President's Budget Would Slash and Eliminate HUD Programs, Feb. 10, 2020

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Housing Assistance in American Rescue Plan Act Will Prevent Millions of Evictions, Help People Experiencing Homelessness, March 11, 2021

CNN, Still can't pay your rent or mortgage? Here's how the new stimulus plan will help, March 12, 2021

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Media Statement from CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, on Extending the Eviction Moratorium, Jan. 20, 2021

White House, Fact Sheet: Biden Administration Announces Extension of COVID-19 Forbearance and Foreclosure Protections for Homeowners, Feb. 16, 2021

Politico, How Biden hopes to fix the thorniest problem in housing, April 10, 2021

National Low Income Housing Coalition, President Biden Signs American Rescue Plan Act with Nearly $50 Billion in Housing and Homelessness Assistance, March 15, 2021

PolitiFact, The facts on housing affordability in the United States, Dec. 30, 2019

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, Waters at Infrastructure Hearing: We Have Momentum for Serious, Equitable Investments in Our Housing System, April 14, 2021

CQ Transcript, House Financial Services Committee hearing April 14, 2021

Email interview, Erika Cotton Boyce, Habitat for Humanity International spokesperson, April 15, 2021

Telephone interview, Sarah Saadian, National Low Income Housing Coalition vice president of public policy, April 15, 2021

Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman March 22, 2021

COVID-19 relief package includes housing assistance

The housing-related provisions in the COVID-19 relief law align with President Joe Biden's campaign promise to increase access to affordable housing, although many of the provisions provide only temporary assistance.

The American Rescue Plan calls for about $47 billion in housing aid, said Douglas Rice, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The housing provisions include about $21.6 billion in emergency rental assistance, $10 billion in aid to homeowners, as well as money to help Native American communities and rural areas. 

The law allocates $5 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships program, which can be used to develop new affordable housing, but we don't yet know how states and local communities will use those dollars. That provision overlaps with Biden's promise to establish a $100 billion affordable housing fund and to expand the HOME program.

Overall, the housing provisions in the law are aimed at addressing the immediate consequences of the pandemic, Rice said.

"The emphasis here is providing temporary rental assistance as well as aid for homeowners experiencing financial hardship," he said.

In addition to the housing money in the law, the White House pointed to action by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to extend the eviction moratorium through March and Biden's action in February to extend the foreclosure moratorium for homeowners through June 30.

Affordable housing experts said it will take more than the American Rescue Plan to meet Biden's promise to increase the supply of affordable housing. The White House is expected to propose an infrastructure bill next, and housing advocates hope it includes affordable housing measures.

The United States faced a shortage of affordable housing before the pandemic, but it has been exacerbated by the resulting economic decline and job losses. 

"Much more will be needed to address the underlying shortage of affordable homes that existed before the pandemic and will continue to exist after it," said Jen Butler, of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. "Just one in four households who qualify for housing assistance receives it due to decades of chronic underfunding by Congress."

The American Rescue Plan is a step toward Biden's promise to increase the supply of affordable housing, but he will need more substantial funding for permanent housing to achieve his campaign promise. For now, we rate this promise In the Works.


RELATED: Fact-checking Joe Biden on the American Rescue Plan

RELATED: Is housing unaffordable for full-time minimum-wage workers in 99 percent of counties in America?

 

Our Sources

Congress.gov, H.R.1319 - American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, March 11, 2021

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Housing Assistance in American Rescue Plan Act Will Prevent Millions of Evictions, Help People Experiencing Homelessness, March 11, 2021

CNN, Still can't pay your rent or mortgage? Here's how the new stimulus plan will help, March 12, 2021

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Media Statement from CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, on Extending the Eviction Moratorium, Jan. 20, 2021

White House, Fact Sheet: Biden Administration Announces Extension of COVID-19 Forbearance and Foreclosure Protections for Homeowners, Feb. 16, 2021

PolitiFact, The facts on housing affordability in the United States, Dec. 30, 2019

Telephone interview, Douglas Rice, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities senior fellow, March 15, 2021

Email interview, Jen Butler, National Low Income Housing Coalition spokesperson, March 2021

Email interview, Chris Meagher, White House spokesperson, March 17, 2021

 

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