New Pro-Housing Legislation Introduced in Congress
A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators and Representatives introduced the Housing Supply and Affordability Act (HSAA) earlier today. This new, pro-housing legislation creates a Local Housing Policy Grant (LHPG) program administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that will incentivize cites, states, regional associations, and tribes to implement policies that connect housing to transit, jobs, and opportunity. The Housing Supply and Affordability Act is sponsored by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Tim Kaine (D-VA) in the Senate, and Representatives Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), and Joyce Beatty (D-OH) in the House.
In addition to Up for Growth Action, the Housing Supply and Affordability Act is supported by a coalition of 111 national and local stakeholders, including housing advocates, chambers of commerce, environmental groups, cities, rural and urban groups, policy organizations, and public interest organizations.
“All Americans deserve access to an affordable home, but unfortunately the nationwide housing shortage has created an affordability crisis for far too many,” said Senator Klobuchar. “These grants will help communities identify their housing challenges, improve affordability, and implement unique solutions to expand their housing supply.”
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen the critical need for housing supply and affordability,” said Rep. Blunt Rochester. “While Delaware has taken some truly innovative approaches to expanding housing, the reality is that our states and localities need more resources to be able to meet housing needs across the country. That’s why I’m proud to introduce the bipartisan Housing Supply and Affordability Act, which will create incentives which ultimately result in more Americans having the dignity and security of reliable housing.”
The Housing Supply and Affordability Act creates a Local Housing Policy Grant program administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The proposed program would provide grants to states, localities, tribes, and regional municipal and county coalitions to encourage housing development, revise land-use and permitting processes, incentivize affordable housing, and make housing production easier. The HSAA complements legislation such as the bipartisan Yes in My Backyard (YIMBY) Act by providing the resources needed to enact the policies covered under the YIMBY Act.
“The Housing Supply and Affordability Act will provide cities, states, regional associations, and tribes the resources they need to connect housing with jobs, transit, and opportunity,” said Mike Kingsella, Executive Director of Up for Growth Action. “The Local Housing Policy Grant program established by the legislation incentivizes recipients to develop housing policies that eliminate artificial barriers to housing production, including exclusionary zoning. The bipartisan Housing Supply and Affordability Act should be a key component of the country’s continued economic recovery. We applaud Senator Klobuchar, Senator Portman, Senator Kaine, Representative Blunt Rochester, Representative Herrera Beutler, and Representative Beatty for developing and introducing this critical pro-housing legislation.”
Under the legislation, HUD will award the LHPGs on a competitive basis to states, local governments, regional coalitions of local governments, or Indian tribes that demonstrate rising housing costs and a pattern of imbalance between the availability of jobs and housing. Grants will be scored and prioritized based on the merits of the proposed plans, the extent to which the local effort will leverage other sources of federal, state, and local funding, and the degree to which the plan will increase housing supply and affordability near transportation options and in locations with existing jobs. To encourage regionally coordinated planning and development, preference is given to applicants representing regional coalitions. Grant funding allocated by the bill is $300 million per year for five years.
In 2019, the State of Washington created a similar program called Housing Needs Assessment and Housing Action Plan grant program, established by HB 1923. To date, 70% of Washington cities with populations of more than 20,000 have applied and received some of the $5 million allocated to the program. The utilization of the program suggests that many cities have a strong desire – and need – to engage in a comprehensive housing planning process.
“When Washington passed a law in 2019 providing grants to cities who took action to increase housing supply and diversify housing types, we expected to see movement in the right direction, but we were pleasantly surprised by the number of cities who took strong action,” said Washington State Representative Joe Fitzgibbon (D-Burien), author of HB 1923. “This policy has been effective in unlocking access to planning grants that aren’t available to cities in any other way. Our experience in Washington suggests that the HSAA will significantly and meaningfully improve housing affordability in communities across the United States.”
To learn more about the Housing Supply and Affordability Act, please click here.
What sponsors and stakeholders are saying:
“The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the housing affordability crisis in Ohio and cities across the nation” said Senator Portman. “To truly address the issue of housing affordability, we need to look closely at what’s happening at the local level, and that is exactly what this bill does. This bipartisan piece of legislation will provide localities and municipalities with resources to expand the supply of housing and increase affordability. As we turn the corner on the coronavirus pandemic, let’s make sure that housing affordability and availability is at the center of our economic recovery efforts.”
“It’s critical that we eliminate barriers that keep Americans from accessing safe and affordable housing,” said Senator Kaine. “I’m proud to cosponsor this bipartisan legislation that would help address our nation’s housing crisis and provide state and local governments the resources they need to ensure more Virginians can find affordable housing.”
“Our nation’s housing crisis, coupled with the effects of the COVID pandemic, has hit Southwest Washington communities and families particularly hard,” said Rep. Herrera Beutler. “Finding solutions to meet our region’s housing demands is a top priority of mine, and it’s why I’m working in Congress to address this issue. I’m pleased to introduce this bipartisan legislation aimed at helping local communities increase housing supply and affordability throughout our region. Our goal is to give families, seniors, and individuals increased access to quality housing in Southwest Washington.”
“Right now in America, millions of people lack access to safe, secure, and stable housing because of draconian land-use and exclusionary policies,” said Rep. Beatty. “The Housing Supply and Affordability Act will help close our nation’s severe housing shortage by incentivizing local governments to enact policies that increase supply and help more families find their ‘home sweet home.’”
"The Housing Supply and Affordability Act, led by Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, will help remove local barriers to housing production, and ensure that communities have the tools they desperately need to address our housing shortage,” said Anne Mavity, Executive Director of the Minnesota Housing Partnership. "Zoning has been used by too many communities to keep people out. This legislation will provide incentives for local communities to remove discriminatory zoning policies, and ensure that communities have the housing they need to support a thriving economy, ensure healthy seniors, and ensure that every child has a home to do their homework.”