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Waters Introduces Legislation to Invest in America’s Housing Infrastructure

Washington, DC, November 21, 2019
Tags: HUD

Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, introduced H.R.5187, the Housing is Infrastructure Act of 2019, a bill to provide the necessary funding to improve the nation’s housing infrastructure and create jobs across the country.

“We are in the midst of a housing affordability crisis across the country, caused in part by the lack of affordable and available rental units, rising rents, gentrification, and dilapidated public housing,” said Chairwoman Waters. “For example, 10,000 units of public housing are lost each year as a result of disinvestment, and it would take $70 billion to address the capital needs. I convened a House Financial Services Committee hearing in April to assess the infrastructure needs of America’s housing stock, and today, I have introduced the Housing is Infrastructure Act of 2019. Studies have shown that neglecting our housing infrastructure will only hurt our economy, so I urge my colleagues to support this legislation to make the necessary investments in rural, suburban and urban housing markets, and ensure all future conversations around infrastructure investments include affordable housing.”

Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) also introduced a companion measure in the United States Senate.

“Too many Americans are fighting tooth and nail to keep a roof over their heads as our nation continues to face a housing affordability and homelessness crisis,” said Senator Harris. “It will take a comprehensive and serious investment to confront this issue head on, and the Housing is Infrastructure Act is our best chance to get it done. I am proud to work with Chairwoman Waters on this bill, which would empower our local communities to make affordable housing available for all. Housing is a human right, and we must act now to tackle the affordable housing crisis and ensure everyone has a safe and accessible home.”

H.R.5187 is supported by the Capital Magnet Fund Coalition, Council of Large Public Housing Authorities, Council of State Community Development Agencies, Enterprise Community Partners, Leading Age, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, National Apartment Association, National Association of Counties, National Association of Home Builders, National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials, National Community Development Association, National Housing Conference, National Housing Trust, National Low Income Housing Coalition, National Multifamily Housing Council, Public Housing Authorities Directors Association, and Up for Growth Action

“On behalf of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, I applaud Chairwoman Waters and Senator Harris for introducing legislation to make robust infrastructure investments in affordable housing solutions, including the national Housing Trust Fund and resources to repair our nation’s public housing stock,” said Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “The connection between affordable homes and infrastructure is clear: like roads and bridges, affordable homes are a long-term asset that helps communities and the lowest-income families thrive. It is critical that any infrastructure package includes significant resources to build and preserve homes affordable to our nation’s poorest seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, and other individuals.”

“More than two decades of profound underfunding have been catastrophic for the nation’s public housing, resulting in a shrinking number of units and deteriorating physical conditions,” said Tim Kaiser, Executive Director of the Public Housing Authorities Directors Association (PHADA). “PHADA is pleased to support this bill and to have provided analysis on the amount of critical funding necessary to address the underfunding of public housing capital needs. We appreciate the leadership of Chairwoman Waters on this measure.”

The “Housing is Infrastructure Act of 2019” contains the following investments into our housing infrastructure:

  • $70 billion to fully address the public housing capital backlog.
  • $1 billion to fully fund the backlog of capital needs for the Section 515 and 514 rural housing stock;
  • $1 billion to support mitigation efforts that can protect communities from future disasters and reduce post-disaster federal spending;
  • $5 billion for the Housing Trust Fund to support the creation of hundreds of thousands of new units of housing that would be affordable to the lowest income households;
  • $100 million to help low income elderly households in rural areas age in place;
  • $1 billion for the Native American Housing Block Grant Program to address substandard housing conditions on tribal lands;
  • $10 billion for a CDBG set-aside to incentivize states and cities to eliminate impact fees and responsibly streamline the process for development of affordable housing; and
  • $5 billion for the HOME Investment Partnership Program to fund affordable housing activities such as building, buying, and rehabilitating affordable homes for low-income people;
  • $2.5 billion for the Supporting Housing for Elderly (Section 202 Program);
  • $2.5 billion for Supportive Housing for persons with disabilities (811 Program); and
  • $2.5 billion to the Capital Magnet Fund for competitive grants to Community Development Financial Institutions to finance affordable housing and community revitalization efforts.

In addition, the “Housing is Infrastructure Act of 2019” requires ten percent of nearly all funding authorized in the bill to be used for sustainable features such as energy efficiency retrofits, including those that reduce utility costs for residents. The bill also promotes diversity and inclusion by requiring that grantees conduct outreach to minority and women owned businesses to inform them of opportunities created through funds provided.

To view the legislation text, click here.

To view the executive summary, click here.


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