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Waters Opening Statement at September Full Committee Markup to Advance the Build Back Better Act and Critical Housing Legislation

Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, gave the following opening statement at a full Committee hybrid markup.

Today, this Committee will mark up a key part of the President’s Build Back Better agenda, legislation that will provide a critical investment of $322 billion toward our nation’s affordable housing infrastructure. 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. 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. Specifically, the bill provides $322 billion in funding directed toward the following priorities:

  • $90 billion for new rental assistance targeted to the lowest income renters, including $75 billion for hundreds of thousands of new Housing Choice Vouchers. Fully one-third of this funding — $25 billion — will be targeted to persons experiencing or at risk of homelessness. This is the biggest expansion of the voucher program since its creation in 1974. It also revives the Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance program for the first time since 1983, to increase the supply of deeply affordable housing in neighborhoods, allowing families to thrive.

  • $80 billion to address the nation’s public housing capital backlog that has contributed to the dire health and safety issues affecting public housing residents today. This funding will ensure such housing remains within public ownership and control in perpetuity as is the core mission of public housing. 

  • Over $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. Overall, we anticipate that this package will preserve, create, or retrofit over 3 million affordable housing units.

  • $8.5 billion in CDBG funding, including targeted funding for Colonias and manufactured housing communities.

  • $10 billion in first-time, first generation homebuyer downpayment assistance in order to help millions of mortgage-ready households become homeowners and build wealth.

  • The bill also protects the descendants of Black Native American Freedmen who have been disenfranchised by four Native American tribes. Specifically, it provides $2 billion for the Indian Housing Block Grant Program to alleviate the deplorable housing conditions in Indian Country while ensuring funds are limited to those tribes that are in compliance with their treaties relating to the Freedmen.

Finally, the bill invests billions to ensure these housing and community development investments drive sustainable, racially and economically equitable growth. This includes a major expansion of HUD’s fair housing enforcement capacity. 

We will also mark up the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Reauthorization Act of 2021 (NAHASDA), H.R. 5195, a five-year reauthorization of Native American and Native Hawaiian housing programs. The bill both provides critically needed funding and ensures that the descendants of Black Native American Freedmen have equal access to this assistance.  

Lastly, we are marking up, H.R. 5196, the Expediting Assistance to Renters and Landlords Act of 2021. This bill would enact needed reforms to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program to expedite the distribution of assistance to tenants and landlords during the ongoing pandemic, which to date has only expended 11 percent of available funds after six months of operation. My bill would for the first time allow landlords to apply for assistance after providing notice to their tenants, while also ensuring those same tenants remain stably housed. And the bill would also significantly expand Treasury’s outreach efforts to better inform our tenants and landlords about the availability of these critical funds. 

I look forward to passing these critical pieces of legislation out of Committee.


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