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NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel Statement on Critical Need to Pass Essential Affordable Housing Investments in “Build Back Better Act”

Washington, DC – The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) urges Congress to pass the essential “Build Back Better Act” housing investments in any final reconciliation bill. As homelessness increases, emergency rental assistance is depleted, and millions of the lowest-income renters struggle to remain stably housed, Congress must not miss this moment of opportunity. Housing is foundational to all other aspects of people’s lives, from good health and educational achievement to economic wellbeing. We cannot build back better without affordable housing for those most in need.

The House-passed bill includes critical funding to house the country’s lowest income people: $25 billion to expand rental assistance, $65 billion to preserve public housing, and $15 billion for the national Housing Trust Fund. The transformational housing investments in this bill would expand rental assistance to more than 300,000 households, preserve public housing for its 2.5 million residents, and build and preserve over 150,000 affordable and accessible rental homes for people with the lowest incomes. This would be the largest single investment in quality, affordable, accessible homes for the country’s lowest-income people in history.

If enacted, these investments would directly address the underlying cause of America’s current housing crisis, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and disproportionately impacts marginalized communities: the lack of affordable, accessible homes for the lowest-income people. There is not a single state or congressional district in the country with enough affordable homes to meet this demand, leaving the lowest-income renters at risk of eviction and, in worst cases, homelessness. Despite the clear and urgent need, only one in four households who qualify for housing assistance receives it due to decades of chronic underfunding by Congress. People of color, especially women of color, and other marginalized renters are most harmed by the existing housing crisis.

President Biden’s strategy of advancing and enacting a scaled-back version of the economic recovery package and of repackaging elements left out into separate stand-alone bills puts these critical housing investments at risk. Separate, stand-alone legislation would require votes from at least 10 Republican senators and stand little chance of being enacted this election year. The essential “Build Back Better Act” housing investments for those most in need must be included in any final reconciliation bill.

NLIHC applauds the congressional champions and advocates who have never stopped fighting to get these historic affordable housing investments into Build Back Better, but now we must get them across the finish line. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to address homelessness and put the country on a path towards universal housing assistance. We urge all members of Congress to ensure these investments in rental assistance, public housing, the national Housing Trust Fund are included and enacted in the final reconciliation bill.

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