House Committee Advances Historic Housing Legislation

BY Robert Davis


Lawmakers on the House Financial Services Committee (FSC) advanced legislation containing the housing elements of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda, a $3.5 trillion economic recovery and infrastructure package.

In all, the housing legislation could provide $327 billion to expand affordable housing resources, help families receive down payment assistance, and increase efforts to end homelessness, among other things.

The legislation passed along a party-line vote of 30-24. The House Rules Committee can amend it before it is debated on the House floor.

“For the first time in decades, Congress is taking decisive action toward remaking our nation’s housing to be safer, greener, more inclusive, and affordable,” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), the FSC Chairwoman, said.

“The landmark Build Back Better Act will set our country on a path to ending homelessness, it will create or rehabilitate millions of affordable housing units, it will bring sustainable homeownership within reach for millions of first-generation and first-time homebuyers, it will eliminate the debt of the nation’s flood insurance program, and it will provide important investments in communities that have been left behind for too long,” she added.

Affordable Housing Resources

The legislation makes several key investments in affordable housing programs. Among them are:

Housing advocates such as the National Low Income Housing Coalition have been pushing for these investments for some time. Now that they have arrived, the organization says the legislation must pass.

“It is critical that Congress use this once-in-a-generation opportunity to prioritize investing in decent, accessible, affordable housing for those with the greatest, clearest needs – people experiencing homelessness and people with the lowest incomes,” NILHC said. “If done right, investments in this bill could effectively end homelessness in the United States.”

Ending Homelessness

On top of the significant investments in affordable housing, the legislation also provides considerable resources toward ending homelessness. Some of these investments include:

The bill also requires Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to prioritize housing projects that support communities most vulnerable to homelessness. Those include low-income communities with increasing rates of displacement, projects that serve people experiencing homelessness, and projects that provide units accessible to people with disabilities.

Preventing Future Homelessness

No housing legislation can be successful without a plan to prevent future homelessness. To that end, the legislation invests in critical programs to help low-income homeowners update their homes to become more energy-efficient and safer to live in. These investments include:

Advocates recently penned a letter to Democrat leaders in the House and Senate asking them to support the legislation and work to end decades of “persistent racial homeownership and wealth gaps.”

“Congress [needs] to take advantage of this historic moment and finally begin to take an initial step to reverse the harms of government-sponsored discrimination in the nation’s housing finance system,” the letter reads.

How You Can Help

Now is not the time to be silent about increasing affordable housing and ending homelessness. Never has there been more momentum or grassroots support for these investments. Substantial change requires the public to get involved at every level and in every way they can.

There is too much to lose by sitting idle on the sidelines. Research has shown that poverty and homelessness are increasing across the country. It also shows that targeted government programs can significantly improve outcomes for those individuals.

That’s why you must contact your representatives and local officials. Tell them you support programs that:

Robert Davis

Robert is a freelance journalist based in Colorado who covers housing, police, and local government.

Related Topics

Affordable housing

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