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Legislation to Release $322B for Housing Programs Advances

The House Committee on Financial Services Tuesday decided to advance legislation out of the Biden-Harris Administration's Build Back Better Agenda.

Thirty of 54  Financial Services Committee members voted to pass the committee's portion of the bill, legislation that would provide $322 billion in funding for new and existing federal housing programs.

According to Committee Chair Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who introduced the bill for a full-committee markup, the proposal contains provisions critical to solving the nation’s most urgent housing problems, including the national eviction and homelessness crises, particularly among the lowest-income families, people with disabilities, millennials, and people of color, Waters says.

"The act 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," Waters said prior to markup.

Specific items in the legislations include, among other things, $90 billion for new rental assistance targeted to the lowest income renters; $80 billion to address the nation’s public housing capital backlog; $80 billion in housing supply investments, including $37 billion for the National Housing Trust Fund, $35 billion for the HOME program, and $10 billion for the Capital Magnet Fund; $4.5 billion for a new HUD-administered Unlocking Possibilities zoning and land use reform program to promote affordable housing and coordination with transportation investments; $2.5 billion for Section 202 Housing for the Elderly;

"Overall, we anticipate that this package will preserve, create, or retrofit over three million affordable housing units," Waters said.

The marked-up legislation also features $10 billion funding for a new HUD-administered program for first-generation downpayment assistance and housing counseling.

There also is proposed funding toward manufactured housing communities within the package's $8.5 billion Community Development Block Grant funding.

Significantly, Waters pointed out, this section of legislation invests billions of dollars to ensure these housing and community development investments drive sustainable, racially and economically equitable growth—that includes a major expansion of HUD’s fair housing enforcement capacity. A memorandum accompanying the session is available here.

As the Build Back Better Agenda winds through the necessary channels (of the plan's three parts—the American Rescue Plan, the American Jobs Plan, and the American Families Plan—the American Rescue Plan is the only section yet signed into law), President Biden in a White House Fact Sheet says he "is committed to using every tool available in government to produce more affordable housing supply as quickly as possible."

The White House acknowledged that "persistent imbalances in the U.S. housing market have formed over many decades and it will take concerted effort and iterative policymaking to correct them."

A comprehensive list of actions by the White House and agencies is available at whitehouse.gov.

The House Committee this week also passed legislation to expedite emergency rental assistance and to provide protections for Black Native Americans.

About Author: Christina Hughes Babb

Christina Hughes Babb is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, she has been a reporter, editor, and publisher in the Dallas area for more than 15 years. During her 10 years at Advocate Media and Dallas Magazine, she published thousands of articles covering local politics, real estate, development, crime, the arts, entertainment, and human interest, among other topics. She has won two national Mayborn School of Journalism Ten Spurs awards for nonfiction, and has penned pieces for Texas Monthly, Salon.com, Dallas Observer, Edible, and the Dallas Morning News, among others. Contact Christina at christina.hughesbabb@thefivestar.com.
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