“Passing the bipartisan infrastructure bill last week was the first step in improving America’s aging infrastructure,” said Jesse Van Tol, President and CEO of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. “But this Build Back Better Act is just as vital if not more so in providing investments needed to finally overhaul a foundational American system rooted in racial and economic injustice.”
The package, a key component of the Biden Administration’s plans to combat racial and social injustice, includes important housing and homeownership provisions that NCRC endorses. These programs include $25 billion for affordable and accessible housing production (HOME), $10 billion for first-generation downpayment assistance (DTE), $5 billion for expedited equity (LIFT) and $3 billion for the community restoration revitalization fund (CRRF). They reflect NCRC’s continued advocacy to increase not only the opportunity for homeownership financing, but also the available inventory of affordable homes.
Not only is owning a home a significant part of the American dream, it is also a significant wealth generator that can have positive impacts for generations. However, these benefits have not been available to all equally. Due to decades of racist laws, policies and behaviors in the American housing system, also known as redlining, low- and moderate-income communities and communities of color still lack the financing and investments needed to experience the transitional wealth that comes from homeownership. As a result, the Black/ White homeownership gap is a major contributor to the ever persistent racial wealth gap.
Persistent redlining is not the only obstacle facing the American housing industry. There is also a significant lack of supply of affordable housing, and not just rental housing, but also affordable housing for first-time homebuyers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, home purchase prices soared across the country as demand greatly surpassed supply, pushing the market further away from those lower down the economic ladder.
While the majority of homeownership provisions in this package focus on demand-side solutions, we are encouraged by the inclusion of some supply-side solutions and will continue to work toward addressing the nation’s historic affordable housing inventory crisis.
The US Senate has not indicated when they will take up the package. It may not get time on the voting calendar until the new year.