Urge Congress to Provide Highest Funding Possible to Affordable Housing, Community Development, and Transportation Programs in Fiscal Year 2021

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State and local governments and the communities they serve rely on federal resources to meet the most basic infrastructure needs of their communities, such as community development, transportation, and accessible, affordable housing.

With more families struggling to make ends meet and our nation's affordable housing and transportation infrastructure deteriorating, federal investments are ever more critical to create more equitable communities and ensure families thrive.

Sign your organization onto the the letter below to urge Congress to work together to ensure affordable housing, community development, and transportation programs receive the highest allocation of discretionary funds possible in fiscal year 2021.


The letter reads as follows:


Dear Chair Shelby, Ranking Member Leahy, Chair Lowey, and Ranking Member Granger:

We, the undersigned organizations, stand in support of vital federal programs that provide housing assistance and community development resources to aid low-income households and help improve our roads, bridges, and transit. These programs create millions of jobs and offer critical resources to disenfranchised individuals and communities. With more families struggling to make ends meet and our nation’s affordable housing and transportation infrastructure deteriorating, federal investments are ever more critical to create more equitable communities and ensure families thrive. We represent national, state, and local business, transportation, housing and community development, faith-based, disability, and civil rights organizations, as well as officials in municipal, tribal and state governments.

We urge Members of Congress to work together to ensure affordable housing, community development, and transportation programs receive the highest allocation of discretionary funds possible in fiscal year (FY) 2021.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 established funding levels for non-defense discretionary spending that will limit the resources available for a wide variety of programs. Because costs for affordable housing and community development programs are tied to market rates, which generally rise over time, a significant increase over FY 2020 levels is necessary to maintain the current number of assisted households. Families who receive this assistance are already struggling to get by and should not be made to carry the burden of balancing the country’s budget.

Today, one in four renters in the United States spends more than half of their income on rent, and homelessness rates are rising in many communities across the country. A growing number of people are unable to afford a place to call home, and the number of accessible homes remains at low levels, despite the increasing need. Our nation’s housing crisis particularly hurts people of color who are disproportionately impacted due to decades of discrimination and disinvestment. Housing costs are rising faster than wages, our nation’s affordable housing stock is deteriorating, and the supply of affordable and accessible housing and rental assistance has not kept pace. 

Accessible, affordable housing has broad, positive impacts on families, seniors, people with disabilities, and the economy. Increasing and preserving access to affordable housing— especially in areas of opportunity—helps families climb the economic ladder, leads to greater community development, and bolsters economic productivity. Additionally, community development assistance is vital for rural, urban and suburban areas to revitalize distressed neighborhoods, address urgent community needs, and provide for critical public services and economic development. Meanwhile, 15 million people in this country have difficulty getting the transportation they need, and declining funding in recent years has exacerbated this problem. Transportation is second to housing as the largest expense for American households, costing more than food, healthcare, and clothing. Transportation systems are a lifeline to opportunity, connecting low-income people to jobs, schools, affordable housing, healthcare, grocery stores, and other vital community resources. Research has also shown that expanding public transit by 10% increases a city’s economic output by 1-2%.

Congress must ensure that affordable housing and transportation programs receive the highest allocation of discretionary funds possible, rather than flat funding or decreased resources. Since rents and other market rates generally rise each year, appropriations for affordable housing and community development programs need to increase annually to renew existing contracts. Flat funding acts as a cut, reducing the number of low-income households served and preventing private owners and public housing agencies from making vital repairs. Investing in affordable housing infrastructure reduces existing inequities and boosts local economies by leveraging public and private resources to lift resident earnings and local tax revenue. In fact, building 100 affordable rental homes generates $11.7 million in local income, $2.2 million in taxes and other revenue for local governments, and 161 local jobs in the first year.

State and local governments and the communities they serve rely on the resources provided by the Departments of Transportation (DOT) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to meet the most basic infrastructure needs of their communities. These infrastructure needs— transportation, community development, and accessible, affordable housing—exist in every community across the country. Providing additional federal resources through proven, effective DOT and HUD programs will allow neighborhoods to thrive and meet the needs of more of our lowest-income residents.

We urge you to ensure affordable housing, community development, and transportation programs receive the highest amount of funding possible in FY 2021.

Sincerely,

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