As Congressional leaders negotiate over the size and scope of the Build Back Better Act, the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s (NLIHC) HoUSed campaign and Prosperity Indiana urge Congress to ensure that any final economic recovery package prioritizes housing investments targeted to serve America’s lowest-income and most marginalized households who face the greatest, clearest needs. The Build Back Better Act must include investments in rental assistance, public housing, and the Housing Trust Fund at the historic levels approved by the House Financial Services Committee and drafted with the Senate Banking Committee.
America is in the grips of an affordable housing crisis, most severely impacting the most marginalized and lowest-income people. Nationally, there is a shortage of 7 million homes affordable and available to the lowest-income renters including a gap of nearly 127,000 units in Indiana alone. While there are proven solutions that can address the affordability crisis, current funding levels from Congress leave three out of four eligible households receiving no assistance at all, which is what brought us to the brink of an eviction tsunami during a global health emergency.
“The spotlight that COVID has shown on the preexisting crisis – the need for better and more affordable housing – makes this long-standing issue undeniable at this point,” said Jessica Love, executive director for Prosperity Indiana. “It’s time now to not only address the immediacy of the moment but to invest into the future of our nation’s families and communities by supporting the myriad of tools available to us to build and preserve affordable housing.”
The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s (NLIHC) HoUSed campaign and Prosperity Indiana urge Congress to enact historic investments in the country’s affordable housing infrastructure, including $90 billion to expand rental assistance to 1 million more households, $80 billion to preserve public housing for more than 2.5 million residents, and $37 billion for the national Housing Trust Fund to build, preserve and rehabilitate 330,000 apartments affordable to the lowest-income people. Any spending cuts to the Build Back Better Act must not come at the expense of these proven solutions to America’s housing crisis.
“There’s never been a moment where there were such transformative investments on the table and there was a real potential to achieve them,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. “The Build Back Better Act is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to effectively end homelessness – if done right. Congress cannot allow this opportunity to pass us by.”
An underlying cause of America’s housing crisis is a market failure that results in a severe shortage of rental homes affordable to people with the lowest incomes. In Indiana there are 202,171 extremely low-income households but only 75,219 affordable rental homes available to them. The result is only 37 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 Hoosier households with extremely low incomes, the second-lowest rate of availability among Midwest states.
Despite the clear and urgent need, only one in four households who qualify for housing assistance receives it due to decades of chronic underfunding by Congress. People of color – especially women of color – and other marginalized renters are most harmed by the housing crisis.