Long-Awaited “Housing Is Infrastructure” Legislation Introduced in the House

Date Published: 
November 21st, 2019

After a congressional hearing earlier this year, and after reviewing draft legislation, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, introduced H.R. 5187, the Housing is Infrastructure Act of 2019, on November 21, which would authorize funding for several housing infrastructure projects, including $70 billion for the Public Housing Capital Fund.

According to Chairwoman Waters, “We are in the midst of a housing affordability crisis across the country, caused in part by the lack of affordable and available rental units, rising rents, gentrification, and dilapidated public housing...For example, 10,000 units of public housing are lost each year as a result of disinvestment, and it would take $70 billion to address the capital needs.”

CLPHA strongly supported the draft legislation back in April, and is listed as an early supporter of the legislation introduced today. Highlights from the legislation include the following investments into housing infrastructure:

  • $70 billion to fully address the public housing capital backlog.
  • $1 billion to fully fund the backlog of capital needs for the Section 515 and 514 rural housing stock;
  • $5 billion to support mitigation efforts that can protect communities from future disasters and reduce post-disaster federal spending;
  • $5 billion for the Housing Trust Fund to support the creation of hundreds of thousands of new units of housing that would be affordable to the lowest income households;
  • $100 million to help low income elderly households in rural areas age in place;
  • $1 billion for the Native American Housing Block Grant Program to address substandard housing conditions on tribal lands;
  • $10 billion for a CDBG set-aside to incentivize states and cities to eliminate impact fees and responsibly streamline the process for development of affordable housing; and
  • $2.5 billion for the HOME Investment Partnership Program to fund affordable housing activities such as building, buying, and rehabilitating affordable homes for low-income people;
  • $2.5 billion for the Supporting Housing for Elderly (Section 202 Program);
  • $2.5 billion for Supportive Housing for persons with disabilities (811 Program); and
  • $2.5 billion to the Capital Magnet Fund for competitive grants to Community Development Financial Institutions to finance affordable housing and community revitalization efforts.

H.R. 5187 also requires ten percent of nearly all funding authorized in the bill to be used for sustainable features such as energy efficiency retrofits, including those that reduce utility costs for residents. The bill also promotes diversity and inclusion by requiring that grantees conduct outreach to minority and women owned businesses to inform them of opportunities created through funds provided.

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