FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 16, 2021
Media Contact: Izzy Woodruff | 202-898-1661 | IWoodruff@nationalfairhousing.org
The National Fair Housing Alliance Enthusiastically Supports Housing is Infrastructure Act and Other Critical Housing Infrastructure Bills Introduced by Chairwoman Waters
These bills acknowledge housing as a central component of infrastructure
Washington, D.C. — The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) has placed strong support behind three bills introduced today by House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters — the Housing Is Infrastructure Act, Downpayment Toward Equity Act, and Ending Homelessness Act. NFHA applauds the Congresswoman for her bold leadership in advancing housing equity and stability. Taken together, these bills will strengthen the nation’s infrastructure, add millions of living wage jobs to the economy, and expand equitable opportunities for millions of Americans.
“For too long, Congress has starved the public of the necessary resources to make safe, decent, and affordable homes available to everyone, and it has all but guaranteed the racial inequities we see today by neglecting the civil rights programs that protect our fair housing rights,” said Lisa Rice, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance. “We applaud Congresswoman Waters’ tireless efforts to finally address our nation’s affordable housing crisis and racial homeownership gap. The bills introduced today finally place housing in its rightful place among the various infrastructure investments that have historically ignored its centrality to a well-functioning society and economy. And the fair housing investments and guardrails in the bills will help ensure that everyone in this country is connected to opportunity, regardless of where their home may be.”
The legislation from Chairwoman Waters positions housing as a fundamental component of our nation’s infrastructure and seeks to correct the harm caused by previous infrastructure bills, such as the National Highway Acts, to communities and people of color. Together, if enacted, these bills would take important steps toward providing desperately needed affordable housing, ending homelessness, and reversing the nation’s growing racial homeownership gap. The bills help achieve these important goals with equity and fairness as guiding principles for how housing resources will be deployed. They will drive economic growth and ensure that Black and Brown communities are included in President Biden’s goal to “Build Back Better.” It is long past time for Congress to confront our nation’s affordable housing crisis and address racial homeownership gaps largely created by exclusionary federal housing policies.
Housing is Infrastructure Act
The cornerstone legislation, the Housing is Infrastructure Act, rightfully recognizes housing as a fundamental component of our nation’s infrastructure. It also seeks to correct the harm caused by previous infrastructure bills. By crafting the bill through an equity lens and recognizing housing as an essential component of infrastructure, the legislation aims to invest in all communities through the preservation, retrofitting, or new construction of housing while simultaneously spurring new transportation, environmental, energy, and clean water projects that benefit us all. Notably, the bill includes:
- $10 billion in a Community Revitalization Fund to support community infrastructure projects;
- $2.5 billion to support fair housing activities through the Fair Housing Initiatives Program to ensure infrastructure projects equitably benefit all communities;
- $15 billion for grants to support the elimination of exclusionary land uses and streamline development of fair and affordable housing;
- Funding to ensure consumers can access critical information about affordable and sustainable housing opportunities;
- $75 billion to fill capital needs for public housing;
- $45 billion for the Housing Trust Fund to support new rental homes for people with the lowest incomes;
- $35 billion for the HOME Investment Partnership Program for the construction, rehab, or purchase of homes for low-income people;
- The requirement that all infrastructure projects are implemented in a manner that affirmatively furthers fair housing, strengthens and develops neighborhoods, expands access to critical amenities, like broadband, clean water and energy, and transportation; and
- $5 billion in funding for fair housing staff at HUD to enable the agency to effectively implement programs, provide technical assistance to jurisdictions, and ensure compliance with federal civil rights laws.
Downpayment Toward Equity Act
Our nation’s history of government-sponsored segregation and exclusion resonates to this day, as people of color, especially Black and Latino individuals, lack familial wealth and still face barriers to homeownership. Today, Black and Latino families have significantly less net worth when compared to their White counterparts, resulting in less cushion available to them to weather major life setbacks and economic shocks, like the COVID-19 pandemic. This is largely due to the challenges that people of color face when trying to accumulate the necessary down payment on a mortgage, especially after years of exclusion from previous federally subsidized wealth building opportunities in housing. To address this, the Downpayment Toward Equity Act provides $100 billion in first-generation homeowner assistance to individuals whose parents — or they themselves — do not own a home. We applaud Chairwoman Waters for funding this transformational down payment assistance program modeled on a proposal from NFHA and the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), and we urge the Biden Administration to support this important legislation to ensure that it can best meet its promise to realize fair housing in the United States.
Ending Homelessness Act of 2021
Affordable housing in the United States has historically been underfunded, and today only 1 in 4 households that qualify for housing aid are able to secure housing assistance. And of those households that can secure a voucher, many are turned away by landlords who refuse to participate in the program, often because of racist, sexist, or classist stereotypes. To stop this, the Ending Homelessness Act would create a universal housing voucher entitlement program to ensure that every eligible household is provided with rental assistance and once and for all prohibit voucher and other forms of source of income discrimination. These major provisions will eliminate waiting lists and provide every eligible household in need the opportunity to access affordable rental housing, free from discrimination.
Defining infrastructure narrowly ignores the intricate and impactful connections that exist between determining where a new metro line will be laid and the housing that will have to be razed to make way for the new transportation system; how it will connect people from where they live to the places where they work, go to school, worship, or get healthcare; and how the new system will ever change the contours of neighborhoods where we live. We look forward to working with Congress to pass the Housing Is Infrastructure Act, Downpayment Assistance Act, and Ending Homelessness Act; and we urge the Biden Administration to fully support these transformational bills.
The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) is the country’s only national civil rights organization dedicated solely to eliminating all forms of housing and lending discrimination and ensuring equal opportunities for all people. Through its homeownership, credit access, tech equity, education, member services, public policy, community development, and enforcement initiatives, NFHA works to dismantle longstanding barriers to equity and build diverse, inclusive, well-resourced communities.