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Affordable housing groups look to Biden to fulfill campaign promises

Biden's $640 billion housing plan in the spotlight

Though housing didn’t take center stage during the 2020 election season, those who work in affordable housing were keeping a close eye on the race, and are now looking expectantly at President-elect Joe Biden’s $640 billion housing plan originally proposed in February. Many organizations took the time to welcome the new administration but did not shy away from reminding him of his campaign promises and the need for swift aid.

Sarah Saadian, vice president of public policy for the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said starting day one, Biden will need to take immediate action to prevent a wave of evictions by issuing a strengthened eviction moratorium. Saadian noted the current moratorium – issued by the CDC and set to end Dec. 31 – has shortcomings that leave many renters unprotected.

“After issuing an eviction moratorium, President-elect Biden must work with Congress to pass a coronavirus relief package that includes emergency housing and homelessness resources to help renters when back rent is owed,” Saadian said. “It will take incredible leadership and focus to ensure that these resources reach renters as quickly as possible. 

“In terms of longer-term opportunities, President-elect Biden ran on a bold housing platform, including expanding rental assistance, investing $20 billion in the national Housing Trust Fund, and enforcing fair housing laws, among other measures. There is a tremendous opportunity – whether in an infrastructure or stimulus package or other legislation – for the incoming administration to make strides in addressing one of the most critical issues facing extremely low-income families today: the lack of decent, accessible, and affordable housing,” Saadian said.

David Dworkin, president and CEO of the National Housing Conference, applauded Biden’s appointment of two housing industry experts to his transition team.

“On behalf of the National Housing Conference, I would like to congratulate President-elect Biden for moving quickly to appoint Don Graves and Erika Poethig as leaders within the agency review teams.

“A smooth transfer of knowledge and power, through the work of highly qualified public policy professionals, protects the interests of the American people, and is one of the clearest signals of a well-functioning democracy,” Dworkin said. “Don Graves is a trusted advisor to President-elect Biden with decades of experience in the Treasury Department as well as community lending. Erica Poethig has led some of the most innovative research in housing and community development at the Urban Institute, while having extensive experience at HUD. These choices are an excellent indication of the kind of leadership we can look forward to.

“With their exceptional backgrounds in domestic and economic affairs, the choice of Graves and Poethig demonstrate the President-elect’s commitment to create a new administration that fully serves our nation in an extraordinary time. NHC looks forward to supporting the transition teams and working with the incoming administration on our shared housing priorities on behalf of our 320 members,” Dworkin said.

Younger generations want to become homeowners – Here’s how the housing industry can help

Despite what many believe, Gen Z and Millennials do want to become homeowners and they’re excited by the prospect. As an industry, if we are willing to step into that advisory role, we can be more successful in helping prospective homebuyers become homeowners. 

Presented by: Fannie Mae

Danielle Samalin, CEO of Framework Homeownership, said the fight to uphold fair housing laws and address the racial wealth gap is far from over.

“We must be vigilant in our support of and outreach to the millions of vulnerable homeowners living precariously on the edge of a mortgage crisis due to the economic and health impacts of the COVID pandemic, and we must ensure that any COVID-19 response plan addresses these vulnerable homeowners,” Samalin said. “Finally, we must continue to invest in the long, hard work of acknowledging and repairing the inequities in our homeownership system.”

In particular, Samalin said her company will be especially focused on the future of the CFPB, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the promised first-time homebuyer tax credit, which Samalin said will likely have a direct impact on the organization’s customers.

“We know that the Biden/Harris administration will be an advocate of fair housing policies and racial equity, and we look forward to what’s to come. The result of the election aligns well with our core mission and values, and while the implementation of new policies may change our tactics, it will not change our North Star,” Samalin said.

The executive director of the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities, Sunia Zaterman, said her organization looks forward to working with the Biden administration toward their shared goals of ending poverty, improving health and education outcomes and providing the catalyst for upward mobility for low-income Americans.

Biden’s February housing plan detailed opportunities for every American to have access to housing that is affordable, stable, safe and healthy, accessible, energy efficient and resilient and located “near good schools” with a “reasonable commute to their jobs.” To do so, Biden’s plan would invest $640 billion over 10 years.

In his plan, Biden proposed a $100 billion Affordable Housing Fund to construct and upgrade affordable housing:

  • $65 billion in new incentives for state housing authorities and the Indian Housing Block Grant program to construct or rehabilitate low-cost, efficient, resilient, and accessible housing in areas where affordable housing is in short supply.
  • $10 billion to make homes more energy efficient.
  • $5 billion to increase the stock of affordable housing as part of larger community development efforts.
  • Increase funding for the Housing Trust Fund by $20 billion.

Biden also said he planned to provide tax incentives for the construction of more affordable housing in communities that need it most with an expansion of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and eliminate local and state housing regulations that limit affordable housing options and contribute to urban sprawl.

Affordable housing advocates joined the mortgage industry overall and the real estate sector in responding to Biden’s presidential win.

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