Dear President Biden,
We write to highlight the urgent need for substantial affordable housing infrastructure investments as part of the broader effort to repair and modernize our nation's critical infrastructure systems. Without proportional affordable housing investments, there is no path for an equitable recovery and long term financial stability for low and middle income American families.
If we fail to act now, our nation's economic growth will continue to be held back by the over 7 million unit deficit in affordable homes. Our current low affordable housing inventory is a significant driver of higher housing costs, which in turn strains limited federal rental assistance programs. 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. Millions of eligible households are currently stuck on waiting lists -- often for several years -- hoping for help to come sooner.
The long wait for help sets families further back year after year. Eight million of the lowest-income renters pay at least half of their income on rent, leaving them without the resources they need to put food on the table, purchase needed medications, or make ends meet. Coronavirus and the compounding effects of explosive wildfires and extreme weather events have made the need for affordable housing more clear than ever in both rural and urban communities. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, fifty-four million rural residents lived in areas that had either a severe need or moderately severe need for the production of more affordable rental housing.
For these reasons, we urge you to include at a minimum the following key affordable housing infrastructure programs in the Build Back Better infrastructure package.
Guarantee Housing Choice Vouchers for all eligible Americans and convert the funding status from annual appropriations to mandatory spending.
$70 billion to address the Public Housing repair backlog.
$45 billion for the National Housing Trust Fund per year, of which $26 billion should be reserved for permanent supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness.
While these programs and funding levels merit additional emphasis, this list should not be regarded as a complete list of all the ways we all can or should act to lower housing costs for American families. We respectfully encourage you to consider these three principal recommendations as minimum housing investments that will help ensure the broader in the Build Back Better infrastructure package delivers broad and equitable benefits to all Americans.