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.
We did it! An affordable housing question was asked in the November presidential debate in Atlanta and three candidates -- Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren, and Cory Booker -- answered with many more hands raised. Watch this historic moment here.
But we still need to hear from all of the candidates! Fifteen presidential candidates have put forth proposals and have shared a range of ideas to end the affordable housing crisis. Several of these proposals contain bold plans to address housing poverty and homelessness. Voters are eager to hear more about these plans on the debate stage.
Join Our Homes, Our Votes: 2020 in urging the moderators for the upcoming Democratic debate to ask all candidates: What’s your plan to end the nation’s housing crisis?
Sign on to the letter below!
By signing on, your organization agrees to be listed by name on the letter below. The letter will be sent to moderators of the next presidential candidate debate urging them to ask each candidate how they would address the nation's housing and homelessness crisis.
If you are an individual that wishes to get involved in election engagement, please contact the NLIHC Housing Advocacy Organizer for your state. Find contact information for organizers here.
The letter reads as follows:
To Moderators of the next presidential candidate debate:
The undersigned organizations urge you to ask each presidential candidate how they would address the nation’s housing and homelessness crisis.
Our country is in the grips of a severe and pervasive housing affordability crisis. Nationally, there is a shortage of 7 million homes affordable and available to the lowest-income renters. Rents have risen faster than renters’ incomes over the last two decades, and while more people are renting than ever, the supply of housing has lagged. Fewer than four affordable and available rental homes exist for every 10 of the lowest-income renter households nationwide. As a result, record-breaking numbers of people cannot afford decent homes. Every state and community – urban, rural, or suburban – is impacted.
So far, 15 presidential candidates have released major housing plans or other housing proposals to address the housing crisis. They are talking about these plans on the campaign trail - in town halls, forums and meetings in New Hampshire, Iowa, and beyond. People in America need to hear all presidential candidates share what they will do to make homes affordable to the tens of millions who are struggling to keep roofs over their heads or who have no homes at all.
This is an issue of paramount importance to voters. According to a recent national public opinion poll, 60% of people say housing affordability is a serious problem where they live, up 21 points from 2016. Over 61% of people report having to make at least one sacrifice in the past three years because they were struggling with housing costs, such as cutting back on learning activities for their child, nutritious food, or healthcare.
Strong majorities of the public expect solutions -- 83% say elected officials are not paying enough attention to the cost of housing and the need for more affordable housing. Nearly 8 in 10 people in America say the president should “take major action” to make housing more affordable for low-income families. And 91% of Democratic voters say they are more likely to vote for candidates who have detailed plans for making housing more affordable.
When people have stable, accessible, affordable homes, lives dramatically improve, economic productivity is stronger, and our nation is more just and equitable. Voters want our leaders to address affordable housing, and they need to know where the candidates stand.
As you prepare for the February Democratic debates, we urge you to ask each candidate the question on the minds of voters: How will you address the nation’s affordable housing crisis?
2019 will be an important year for protecting and expanding the national Housing Trust Fund (HTF), the first new resource in a generation dedicated to building and preserving homes affordable to the lowest income people in America. More than 1,900 national, statewide, regional, and local organizations have signed onto a letter calling on Congress to dramatically increase funding to the HTF. If your organization is not already a signatory, endorse the campaign and sign the letter by filling out the online form below. Please note that this is an ORGANIZATIONAL sign-on letter, and your organization, not your individual name, will be listed as an endorser.
Both the Senate Banking Committee and the Trump administration are likely to unveil new proposals in March to reform the U.S. housing finance system. These proposals will include dramatically altering or replacing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the funding sources for the HTF. There will also be calls this year for significant new infrastructure investments, another opportunity to expand funding for the HTF. Housing – especially for the lowest income households – is infrastructure. Advocates should sign your organizations onto the letter and send the email below to your senators and representatives today, urging them to commit to expanded funding for the HTF as part of a broader commitment to housing affordability in any housing finance reform legislation and in any new infrastructure investment legislation.
There are also threats to ongoing funding for the HTF. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and new FHFA Acting Director Joseph Otting recently signaled he would be considering “all options” when asked about funding for the HTF. Mark Calabria, President Trump’s nominee for FHFA director, gave promising answers to questions about protecting HTF funding at his confirmation hearing on February 14, but until Dr. Calabria is confirmed and beyond, it remains crucially important for advocates to demonstrate robust support for the HTF.
The campaign letter reads as follows:
To Members of Congress,
We, the undersigned organizations, write to express our support for the national Housing Trust Fund (HTF) and to urge Congress to protect and expand this critical resource.
The HTF is the first new federal housing resource in a generation, and it is exclusively targeted to help build and preserve housing that is affordable to people with the lowest incomes. In the first three years of HTF, $659.8 million has been allocated to states. Because the HTF is administered as a block grant, each state has the flexibility to decide how to best use HTF resources to address its most pressing housing needs. Most states have chosen to use their HTF investment to build and preserve affordable rental housing for extremely low income veterans, seniors, people with disabilities or special needs, and people experiencing homelessness. While these initial rounds of funding are an important first step, far more resources are necessary to meet the need.
In every state and community, growing numbers of extremely low income renters are struggling to make ends meet. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there is a shortage of 7.2 million rental homes affordable to the nation’s 11.2 million extremely low income renters. This means that for every 100 extremely low income households, there are just 35 rental homes that are affordable and available to them. As a result, 71% of extremely low income households are severely cost burdened, paying more than half of their limited income on rent. These families are forced to make difficult choices between paying rent and buying groceries, seeing a doctor, or saving for college or a rainy day. In the worst cases, they become homeless.
In 2014, Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee voted in support of housing finance legislation, known as Johnson-Crapo, which included a provision to increase funding for the HTF to an estimated $3.5 billion annually, making a significant contribution to ending homelessness and housing poverty without competing with other important HUD programs for appropriated funds. To continue to build bipartisan support for housing finance reform legislation, the HTF must be protected and expanded and the HTF provision included in the Johnson-Crapo bill should be the starting point for any future legislation considered by Congress.
Investments through the HTF are more important now than ever before. We urge you to work with your colleagues to protect and expand the HTF in housing finance reform legislation, as part of a broader commitment to access and affordability throughout the housing market, to serve more families with the greatest needs.
Ambitious proposals like the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act would help end housing poverty and homelessness in America by directly address the underlying cause of the affordable housing crisis -- the severe shortage of affordable rental homes for people with the lowest incomes.
The American Housing and Economic Mobility Act (S.787, H.R. 1737), introduced by Senator Warren (D-MA) and Representative Richmond (D-LA), would provide a robust investment of nearly $45 billion annually to the national Housing Trust Fund. It also includes resources to repair public housing, build or rehabilitate housing in tribal and Native Hawaiian communities, and create and preserve affordable homes in rural areas.
Urge your Senators and Representatives to cosponsor this bill and others like it (or thank them if they already have) by sending them a message using the form below!