Three bills were introduced in Congress this week providing much needed federal funding resources for affordable housing. Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA), chair of the House Financial Services Committee, introduced on April 12 a discussion draft of the “Housing is Infrastructure Act of 2021.” The bill includes two of the HoUSed campaign’s top priorities for the “American Jobs Plan:” an investment of $70 billion to repair public housing and $45 billion for the national Housing Trust Fund to build and preserve homes affordable to people with the greatest needs. NLIHC strongly supports the “Housing is Infrastructure Act” and urges Congress to enact the bill, along with investments to expand rental assistance, to help address the urgent housing needs of the nation’s lowest-income renters.
In addition, the bill would promote equitable development and further fair housing by investing $2.5 billion in fair housing enforcement and requiring grantees of federal funds to consult with local fair housing agencies when applying for investments. It proposes significant investments in tribal and rural housing, funding to address lead-hazard abatement and other unsafe housing conditions, and down payment assistance, among other critical investments.
Representatives Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) and John Rutherford (R-FL) introduced on April 16 the “Public Housing Fire Safety Act,” which would create a HUD grant program to provide public housing authorities additional funding to retrofit older apartment buildings with sprinkler systems to prevent disastrous and potentially lethal fires. The bill was originally introduced in 2020, after a fire in a high-rise public housing building in Minneapolis, MN caught fire and five residents were killed. The building, constructed in the 1960’s, did not have a sprinkler system. A Senate companion bill was introduced in February by Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).
NLIHC’s President and CEO Diane Yentel was quoted in the press release for the bill, stating “the ‘Public Housing Fire Safety Act’ will help protect public housing residents from the dangers of fire and smoke inhalation, and Congress should include the bill in its American Jobs Plan as part of a comprehensive plan to fully repair public housing and to preserve and build more homes affordable to people with the lowest incomes.”
Finally, Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Todd Young (R-IN), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Rob Portman (R-OH) and Representatives Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Don Beyer (D-VA), and Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) introduced on April 15 the “Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2021.” The legislation would improve the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and ensure it better targets extremely low-income renters by providing a 50% basis boost for developments serving extremely low-income renters in at least 20% of units.
The bill would also provide a 50% increase in the 9% Housing Credit authority, which would spur the construction of affordable housing, provisions to help preserve existing affordable housing units, and additional administrative tools for agencies, among other needed changes to the program. The ACTION Campaign estimates that, if enacted, the bill would support the construction of more than two million affordable rental homes over the next ten years.
Learn more about the “Housing is Infrastructure Act” at: https://tinyurl.com/2wcs6xwr
Read NLIHC’s analysis of the “Housing is Infrastructure Act” at: https://tinyurl.com/4582mfaf
Learn more about the “Public Housing First Safety Act” at: https://tinyurl.com/ycaj6ur9
Read the press release for the “Public Housing Fire Safety Act” at: https://tinyurl.com/yuehswt6
Learn more about the “Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act” at: https://tinyurl.com/4dywxxa6