By: Alayna Calabro, NLIHC’s Policy Analyst| July 2, 2020
Policymakers from both sides of the aisle understand that a significant investment in infrastructure should be a top priority. An infrastructure package provides a unique opportunity to address one of the most critical issues facing extremely low-income families today – the lack of decent, accessible, and affordable housing.
The House of Representatives passed the “Moving Forward Act” (H.R. 2), a comprehensive $1.5 trillion infrastructure spending package, by a vote of 233-188 on July 1. The “Moving Forward Act” included the “Housing is Infrastructure Act” (H.R. 5187), which was introduced by House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters (D-CA) and passed out of the Committee in February 2020. The “Housing is Infrastructure Act” proposes $100 billion to construct and preserve 1.8 million affordable homes, through $70 billion for public housing capital repairs and $5 billion for the national Housing Trust Fund, among other investments. A group of 205 national, state, and local organizations sent a letter on February 25 urging Speaker of the Housing Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to include investments in affordable housing as part of any infrastructure package.
In addition to the proposed $100 billion for affordable housing, the “Moving Forward Act” would expand the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, create targeted housing incentives to build homes in rural and tribal communities and for people at risk of homelessness, and make additional investments in infrastructure. Read the House Democrat’s factsheet on the “Moving Forward Act.”
We have created a factsheet that outlines NLIHC’s priorities in an infrastructure package.
A comprehensive infrastructure package should include resources to increase the supply of affordable housing for households with the lowest incomes. Investing in affordable housing infrastructure through construction and preservation will accomplish three critical priorities:
- Bolster productivity and economic growth. Research indicates that the shortage of affordable housing in major metropolitan areas costs the American economy approximately $2 trillion a year in lower wages and productivity. The lack of affordable housing is a barrier to entry, preventing lower-income households from moving to communities with increased economic opportunities. Without the burden of higher housing costs, these families would be better able to move to areas with growing local economies where their wages and employment opportunities may improve.
- Provide a long-term asset that connects low-income families to communities of opportunity and promote economic mobility. Like roads and bridges, affordable housing is a long-term asset that helps families and communities thrive. Without access to affordable housing, investments in transportation and infrastructure will fall short of creating vibrant communities. Increasing the supply of affordable housing – especially in areas connected to well-paying jobs, good schools, healthcare, and transportation – enables families to climb the economic ladder and leads to greater community development. Research indicates that access to affordable housing increases long-term economic mobility.
- Support local job creation and increased incomes. Each dollar invested in affordable housing infrastructure boosts local economies by leveraging private and public resources to raise resident earnings and local tax revenue and to support job creation and retention. Building 100 affordable rental homes generates $11.7 million in local income, $2.2 million in taxes and other revenue for local governments, and 161 local jobs in the first year.
A comprehensive investment in housing infrastructure should include:
- Increase investments in the national Housing Trust Fund to expand the supply of affordable homes for those with the greatest needs ($45 billion)
- Fully fund public housing capital needs ($70 billion)
- Expand rental assistance through Housing Choice Vouchers or a renters’ tax credit
- Prevent evictions by creating a new emergency assistance fund, like the one proposed by the bipartisan “Eviction Crisis Act.”
- Expand and reform the Low Income Housing Tax Credit to allow the program to better reach people with the greatest needs.
Read NLIHC’s Statement on the Passage of the “Moving Forward Act” with $100 Billion Investment in Affordable Housing: https://tinyurl.com/y7myvp64