Rep. Torres Leads Effort in Urging Leadership to Keep Affordable Housing Investments in Build Back Better Act

Washington, DC – Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15) is joined by 123 Members of Congress in a letter to Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Schumer to push for the Build Back Better Act to preserve significant investments in affordable housing. As negotiations on the package move forward, members ask that any cuts do not come at the expense of housing for low income and marginalized individuals. 

See the text of the letter here

The pandemic has heavily strained the inadequate stock of affordable housing available in the United States. There is a national shortage of 7 million affordable homes for renters with extremely low incomes. For every 10 extremely low-income households,  there are fewer than four affordable and available homes. There is not a single state or congressional district with enough affordable homes to meet this demand.

The letter calls for the package to include $90 billion to expand rental assistance to 1 million additional households, $80 billion to address the Public Housing repair backlog for 2.5 million residents and $37 billion for the National Housing Trust Fund to build and preserve 330,000 homes affordable to people with the greatest needs. 

“Taken together, these investments could effectively end homelessness in the United States. Any cuts to funding for these priority programs means fewer people safely and affordably housed. More than ever, we need your leadership to enact bold policies to ensure that people with the lowest incomes and the most marginalized people have a stable, affordable home. These housing investments should be prioritized to help ensure the Build Back Better Act delivers broad and equitable benefits to all Americans,” wrote lawmakers in the letter. 

“I am living proof that direct investment in affordable and public housing gives families stability and opportunity that they would not otherwise get,” said Rep. Torres. “As working families face increased housing instability since the start of the pandemic, it is more important than ever that we make historic federal investments in housing. Now is the time to commit federal dollars to address the affordability crisis across the country. I am proud to be joined by 123 of my Democratic colleagues to ensure that the Build Back Better Act delivers for the lowest income and most marginalized Americans.”

“Thanks to the leadership of Congressman Torres, Chairwoman Waters and other congressional champions, we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to end homelessness, preserve public housing, and set the country on a path towards universal rental assistance. Many priorities in Build Back Better are important, but none will have its intended impact unless the targeted funding to ensure safe, stable and affordable homes are enacted. A home is the foundation upon which all the other priorities rest,” said Diane Yentel, President and CEO of National Low Income Housing Coalition. 

“Because there simply is not enough affordable housing to meet the need, New York’s housing crisis has continued to worsen for years. The Build Back Better Act is an unprecedented chance to address that shortage by expanding and improving the tools we need to create and preserve affordable housing,” said Christopher Widelo, Director of External Affairs at the New York State Association for Affordable Housing. “The federal government’s support is essential to solving this crisis, and we urge Washington to prioritize housing so that we can continue to create the affordable communities New Yorkers deserve.”

“We cannot, as a country, begin to recover from the ravages of COVID, homelessness and widespread poverty or the impacts of systemic racism without major investments like the $330 billion that has been set-aside for deeply affordable housing in the Build Back Better proposal,” said Laura Mascuch, Executive Director of the Supportive Housing Network of New York. “Housing – a home — is the foundation on which all of us depend – it allows us to stay healthy and safe, keep jobs, go to school, raise families…where would each of us be without a place to live?  As a nation, we have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to turn the tide on steadily increasing homelessness by making significant investments in both the National Housing Trust Fund and in rental assistance, both of which would end or prevent homelessness for hundreds of thousands of Americans. We cannot Build Back Better — or at all — without this significant $330 billion housing investment.”

“The United States now stands at a crossroad – with the lives of millions of Americans who are homeless and marginally housed hanging in the balance. The affordable housing provisions in the Build Back Better proposal, in addition to being wise and prudent fiscal policy, offer the real possibility of making our country a more compassionate and empowering place for households in each of our 50 states, who struggle to keep a roof over their heads and put food on their tables. The Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing stands with the hundreds of New York congregations who have sheltered and housed, and the thousands who have provided emergency food to our most vulnerable sisters and brothers, in calling on our congregational leaders to fight for the inclusion of the $330 billion in funding for affordable housing, in the Build Back Better legislation. The sacred command to provide hospitality to those most in need, which is fundamental to the great faith traditions upon which our country was built, requires no less,” said Marc L. Greenberg, Executive Director of Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing 

“Now is the time – when families are facing deepened economic needs and uncertain housing stability – to make historic investments in federal housing resources. We thank Congressman Richie Torres for calling attention once again to the need to save housing funds in the budget reconciliation. A significant expansion of housing funding with an investment of more than $330 billion in affordable housing is within our reach.  This multi-year funding would make a huge dent in solving family homelessness in NY providing $90 billion for new rental assistance vouchers – a proven tool in preventing shelter entry – for New Yorkers with the lowest incomes,” saidRaysa S. Rodriguez, AED for Policy and Advocacy, Citizens’ Committee for Children. 

The letter is endorsed by National Low Income Housing Coalition, National Alliance to End Homelessness, New York Housing Conference and RESULTS. 

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