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Ranking Member Waters on House Floor: “...We Simply Cannot Talk About the State of Our Union Without Talking About the State of Housing in This Country.”

This morning, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, took to the House floor to sound the alarm on our nation's growing housing and homelessness crisis and encourage the Biden administration to commit to addressing this crisis and highlighting it as a major priority in his State of the Union address.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In less than 12 hours, President Biden will deliver his State of the Union address and lay out his top policy priorities for our nation. Last week I sent the White House a request that the national affordable housing and homelessness crisis be included as part of the State of the Union address. And I was very pleased to hear this morning that housing will in fact be included in the address.

Mr. Speaker, I don’t have a special guest. All of the people of this country are my special guest today. I am speaking to them about this critical issue of housing and the need to take the people off the streets. Unfortunately, the homeless on the street and in tents and broken-down RVs will not hear this message tonight but they expect their members of Congress that they elect to office to speak up for them. I speak for them. I fight for them. And I expect everybody, Democrats and Republicans to fight for the people in America who are homeless who are looking for better and decent housing.

While the Biden-Harris administration has helped our nation achieve one of the strongest labor markets with record job creation and a record number of small businesses forming, we simply cannot talk about the state of our union without talking about the state of housing in this country.

Housing is a critical part of every person’s well-being, the largest part of family budgets, and a major part of our economy. Yet, rising housing costs continue to make up nearly 70% of core inflation, outpacing modest wage gains. To put it in plainer terms, Americans are making more money, but housing costs are so extreme that the extra money in their pockets still isn’t enough.

Indeed, more renters and homeowners are paying a greater share of their income on housing than ever before. Since 2020, home prices have skyrocketed by 47 percent. Rents have increased by 40 percent during that same timeframe.

It is no wonder then that families in nearly every income bracket are feeling the pain of one of the worst housing and homelessness crises in our nation’s history.

Today, a record 653,100 people are experiencing homelessness nationwide as we saw a sobering 25 percent spike in the number of people who are experiencing homelessness for the first time in their lives between 2022 and 2023.

I’m talking about people we call our neighbors, family members, students, teachers, and frontline workers. Elderly Americans, who should be enjoying retirement, are one of the fastest rising groups of people experiencing homelessness. This is simply unacceptable.

While the state of our nation’s housing is bleak right now, this doesn’t have to be our future. We know how to solve the housing crisis.

During the pandemic, Democrats secured unprecedented levels of housing relief through bills like the American Rescue Plan Act, which promoted equitable economic recovery, spurred more development of affordable housing, and helped nearly 3 million people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness. Over 12 million people successfully avoided eviction or foreclosure thanks to these investments.

In short, Democrats proved what we can accomplish with substantial, targeted investments in housing, and we should use this as a blueprint to finally end this crisis.

During this Congress, however, people on the opposite side of the aisle the Republicans have tried to defund federal housing programs, and even passed a bill to make homeownership more, not less, expensive.

As the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, I to press the fight in Congress to secure robust investments in fair and affordable housing.

I have reintroduced my groundbreaking housing bills again including: The Housing Crisis Response Act, The Ending Homelessness Act, and The Downpayment Toward Equity Act.

These bills would help create nearly 1.4 million affordable, accessible, and resilient homes, reduce housing costs, end homelessness, and revive the dream of homeownership for all.

So, I am looking forward to hearing President Biden’s State of the Union address and I hope that housing is highlighted as a major policy and not just a passing mention. And so Mr. Speaker and Members, you’re going to hear a lot about housing, I’m not going to give up on housing. I’m going to speak to every Member of Congress about voting for housing to end this crisis. *Speaker bangs gavel* You can keep on pounding. I’m through, I yield back.


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