NLIHC’s Diane Yentel Testifies before Congress on the Necessity of Affordable Housing Investments in Infrastructure Package

TAG: Housing Affordability & Cost Burden Keywords: House Financial Services Committee, Diane Yentel, housing is infrastructure, American Jobs Plan, Michael McAfee, Jaqueline Waggoner, Saule Omarova, Brian Diedl, testimony, Joyce Beatty, Steve Stivers, Ayanna Pressley        

The House Financial Services Committee held a hearing on April 14, “Build Back Better: Investing in Equitable and Affordable Housing Infrastructure,” to discuss the need for affordable housing infrastructure investments. Witnesses for the hearing included NLIHC’s President and CEO Diane Yentel; Dr. Michael McAfee, president and CEO of PolicyLink; Jacqueline Waggoner, president of the Solutions Division at Enterprise Community Partners; Dr. Saule Omarova, law professor at Cornell University; and Brian Diedl, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

During the hearing, the committee considered updated, draft legislation released on April 12 from Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA). The revised “Housing is Infrastructure Act” provides more than $230 billion in housing resources, and it includes two of the HoUSed campaign’s top priorities for any recovery or infrastructure package: $70 billion to preserve public housing and $45 billion for the national Housing Trust Fund to build and preserve additional homes affordable to people with the lowest incomes. The proposed bill does not include the HoUSed campaign’s third infrastructure priority: an expansion of rental assistance to every eligible household. NLIHC supports the updated Housing is Infrastructure Act and urges Congress to enact the bill – alongside an expansion of rental assistance – to help address the urgent housing needs of America’s lowest-income and most marginalized renters.

In her testimony, Diane highlighted the need for significant and sustained federal investments in housing affordable and accessible to the lowest-income people. Diane discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on low-income renters,  the need to address the continuing, underlying affordable housing crisis, and the impact the Housing is Infrastructure Act would have on individuals, families, and communities.

In response to a question from Representative Joyce Beatty (D-OH) on the impact of a $50 billion investment over ten years in the national Housing Trust Fund, Diane noted the funding would “mean nearly 200,000 affordable homes will be built and preserved for people with the lowest incomes, while also creating over 260,000 jobs.” This investment is vital, she said, given the national shortage of nearly 7 million homes affordable and available to the lowest-income renters. When asked by Representative Steve Stivers (R-OH), ranking member of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development, and Insurance, about the housing needs in rural areas Diane emphasized that the affordable housing crisis impacts “rural, suburban, and urban communities alike.”

Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) discussed the challenges of gentrification and displacement that often accompany economic development in low-income areas, a phenomenon disproportionately impacting Black and brown communities. Diane explained how permanently affordable housing can act as an “anchor” for residents and ensure they remain stably housed in their communities, rather than being displaced by increased housing costs.

Read the updated text of the Housing is Infrastructure Act at:

See NLIHC’s factsheet on the Housing is Infrastructure Act at:

Learn more about the HoUSed campaign’s top priorities for the American Jobs Plan at:

Watch a recording of the hearing at:

Read Diane’s testimony at: