Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Holds Hearing on Housing Affordability

The U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs held a hearing, “Examining Proposals to Address Housing Affordability, Availability, and Other Community Needs,” on March 12. Witnesses included Matt Josephs, senior vice president of policy at the Local Initiatives Support Corporation; Dr. E. J. Antoni, research fellow and public finance economist at the Heritage Foundation; and Peggy Bailey, vice president of housing and income security at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The hearing focused on rising housing costs, policies to address housing shortages and increase the affordable housing supply, and approaches to promoting homeownership and rental affordability.

“In every part of the country, everywhere you turn, housing is too expensive, and families have too few housing options,” said Committee Chair Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in his opening statement. “We see more and more renters and homeowners in Ohio and across the country whose only option is to pay more than they can afford for housing. Because rents keep rising faster than paychecks, high costs have pushed even more families – including parents working full-time jobs – into homelessness.”

Chairman Brown highlighted the NLIHC-endorsed “Eviction Crisis Act,” a bipartisan bill which would create a permanent program to provide emergency rental assistance and housing stability services to help low-income households facing housing instability due to an unexpected economic shock. In response to a question from Chairman Brown, Ms. Bailey explained that the Eviction Crisis Act would help households stave off evictions and the costs associated with them, including homelessness.

To address rising rental costs, Ms. Bailey encouraged the Senate to expand and improve rental assistance for the lowest-income families, increase capital funding for deeply affordable rental housing, prevent the loss of existing affordable housing, and remove barriers to homeownership. Ms. Bailey also addressed the need to adequately fund tribal housing in response to an inquiry from Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) on how tribal communities have been affected by the federal government's failure to adequately fund tribal housing programs. Senator Warren introduced on March 12 the “Tribal Rural Housing Access Act” (S.3906), which would guarantee federal funds for rural tribal communities facing severe housing shortages and significant barriers to finding housing and making much-needed repairs.

Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) discussed the NLIHC-endorsed “Family Stability and Opportunity Vouchers Act” (S.1257, H.R.3776), a bipartisan bill to provide 250,000 housing vouchers targeted to low-income families with young children and mobility-related services. Mr. Josephs and Ms. Bailey expressed their support for expanding access to vouchers.

View a recording of the hearing and the witnesses’ testimony at: