Comprehensive Infrastructure Plan Must Include Funds for Affordable Housing

Only 4 Homes Affordable and Available to Every 10 U.S. Households in Need

In a recent op-ed in The Hill titled “Infrastructure package should address housing for neediest Americans”, Diane Yentel discussed the necessity of including funds for affordable housing in any federal infrastructure plan. Yentel, the President and CEO of National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), makes the argument in this article that “deeply affordable housing should be central”.

NLIHC’s The Gap Report tells us that there are only 4 affordable and available homes for every 10 low-income U.S. households in need. Existing affordable housing infrastructure in America is in significant disrepair. The most significant reasons are the slow growth of total public housing funding and according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a 53% decrease in federal funding for repairs since 2000.

An NLIHC article linked in the article describes how severe this decay is. Specifically, every year, 10,000 to 15,000 of these apartments become unusable solely due to inadequate funding for public housing repairs and upkeep.

There is also a significant shortage of public housing and federal rental assistance. Access to affordable housing is necessary for a healthy life and to break out of the cycle of poverty. Housing is healthcare and a right will be among the messages that will be carried at the July 24, 2019 Congressional Reception, which is themed Opportunity Starts at Home: Building a Necessary and Secure Foundation for Healthy Communities.

As both Congress and President Trump administration consider major infrastructure plans, all policymakers must consider and push for increased funding for affordable housing and affordable housing repairs. Yentel highlights one piece of proposed legislation, Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ proposed “Housing is Infrastructure Act.” If passed, the Act would give the national Housing Trust Fund (HTF) an additional $5 billion and also inject $70 billion into the Public Housing Capital Fund, to help quickly repair America’s deteriorating public housing.

As Yentel mentions at the end of the op-ed, the United States’ affordable housing crisis is solvable, but policymakers must take action. The housing affordability problem will require more than just a comprehensive infrastructure plan, but it would be a major first step. Without taking this crisis seriously, more low-income Americans will be without stable and affordable housing.

Click here for the op-ed in The Hill.