“Dear Colleague” Letters Urge Congressional Leadership and White House to Maintain Targeted Affordable Housing Investments in “Build Back Better Act”

Negotiations between congressional leaders and the White House continue over what provisions will be included in the pared-down “Build Back Better Act.” Representative Ritchie Torres (D-NY) and Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Alex Padilla (D-CA) led “Dear Colleague” letters in the House and Senate to show widespread congressional support for the HoUSed campaign’s essential investments to end homelessness, including $90 billion to expand rental assistance to households with the lowest incomes; $80 billion to make desperately needed repairs to public housing; and $37 billion for the national Housing Trust Fund to build, preserve, and operate deeply affordable, accessible housing. Thanks to the hard work of advocates across the country urging their members of Congress to join, 36 senators joined the Senate letter and 125 representatives signed on to the House letter!

The current $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act that includes $327 billion in affordable housing and community development funding is likely to be reduced to a total of $1.5-2 trillion to secure the votes of Senate moderates Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV). Because of the equal divide between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, every Democrat must vote for the Build Back Better Act for the bill to pass the chamber.

NLIHC, advocates around the country, and affordable housing champions in Congress have mobilized to stop negotiators from squandering this once-in-a-generation opportunity to end homelessness. In addition to leading a letter to President Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer signed by every Democrat serving on the House Financial Services Committee (See Memo, 10/12), Committee Chair Maxine Waters (D-CA) held a press conference on October 12 to show support for the housing investments in the reconciliation package.  

“Housing is infrastructure,” Chair Waters stated in her opening remarks. “Housing is also racial equality, housing is climate resilience, housing is childcare and elder care, and housing grows the middle class.” NLIHC’s Vice President of Public Policy Sarah Saadian also gave remarks. “At the end of the day,” she noted, “we know what’s at stake. These resources on the table today could end homelessness in America, but only if we’re doing it right and only if they make it into the final bill.” The Congressional Progressive Caucus also held a press conference on October 12 to support the crucial housing investments in the bill.

There is still no guarantee that essential, targeted affordable housing resources will make it into the final Build Back Better Act. Advocates should contact their senators and representatives TODAY and urge them to ensure that any cuts to the reconciliation bill do not come at the expense of proven housing solutions for those with the greatest needs and to provide the highest possible funding levels for the HoUSed campaign’s top priorities. Together these investments could effectively end homelessness in the United States. Any cuts to funding for these priority programs means fewer people will be safely and affordably housed.

Take Action

  1. Contact your senators and representatives and urge them to weigh in IMMEDIATELY with the White House, Speaker Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Schumer in support of funding the HoUSed campaign’s priorities at the highest level.
  1. Join nearly 1,700 organizations nationwide by signing the HoUSed campaign letter. This letter is one of the most effective ways to show congressional leaders the broad support for the HoUSed campaign’s priorities for the infrastructure/economic recovery bill. Sign on to the letter here.

Thank you for your advocacy!