Biden’s first budget proposes more money for affordable housing - Affordable Housing Online

Biden’s first budget proposes more money for affordable housing

By on April 15th, 2021

Tagged As: Affordable Housing News, Editorials

The White House. Photo by whitehouse.gov

President Biden’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget request proposes significant increases for programs that serve low-income renters. After years of proposed cuts under the Trump administration, affordable housing programs are now getting support from the White House.

The President is requesting $68.7 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in FY 2022. This is a 15% increase over the last fiscal year. The funding increases will help more tenants afford the rent, build and repair thousands of affordable units, make homes safer, and help communities improve water, sewer, and other public infrastructure.

Section 8 Vouchers

There are currently about 2.3 million households using Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers. President Biden is proposing $30.4 billion for the program, which is $5.4 billion more than the previous year. This is enough money to renew all current vouchers, plus add 200,000 more. The additional vouchers will be prioritized towards those who are homeless and those fleeing domestic violence.

Homeless Grants

President Biden is also proposing a big increase in funding to end homelessness. The administration’s budget calls for $3.5 billion in Homeless Assistance Grants (HAG). These grants pay for shelters and related services. This is $500 million more than what Congress provided for FY 2021. These funds will support shelter and services for more than 100,000 additional households.

Public (And Other) Housing

The Biden administration wants to increase the efficiency, resiliency and safety of HUD-assisted housing. The budget fully funds Public Housing operating costs after years of failing to keep up with inflation. 

The president’s budget also addresses the modernization needs of Public Housing. The Public Housing stock is very old. These properties need heating upgrades, new roofs, fire safety improvements, and more. The administration is proposing $3.2 billion for Public Housing Modernization Grants, an increase of $435 million over the year before. 

In addition, the administration proposes $800 million to rehabilitate and modernize HUD-assisted properties. Work will be focused on improving energy efficiency and resilience to natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes.

Community Development

Biden’s FY 2022 budget substantially increases block grant programs that the Trump administration tried to zero out. The HOME program and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) programs provide flexible money to states and local jurisdictions for affordable housing, public infrastructure, and community services.

The Biden administration is proposing $1.9 billion for the HOME program, which is a $500,000 increase over last year. HOME can be used for construction or rehabilitation of affordable housing, as well as rental assistance.

The President’s FY 2022 budget proposes $3.8 billion for CDBG. Of this amount, $295 million will be targeted to marginalized and persistent poverty counties. Many of these counties are rural. CDBG pays for things like new water and sewer systems, extending electrical lines, and rebuilding sidewalks. It can also support vital community services like Meals on Wheels.

Senior, Disabled, and Tribal Assistance

The budget proposal also includes $180 million for housing affordable to seniors and persons with disabilities. In addition, it provides $900 million for tribal efforts to expand affordable housing, improve housing conditions, develop infrastructure, and expand economic opportunities for low-income tribal members.

Safety Measures

Biden also proposes $400 million for HUD programs that make homes safer. These programs address lead hazards and other home health problems. It also proposes increases for the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage insurance program. This will allow more low-income renters to achieve the dream of homeownership.

Housing Discrimination

The Biden administration is committed to reducing housing discrimination and segregation. The budget proposes $85 million for state and local fair housing enforcement organizations. The funds will support education, outreach, and training on fair housing rights. It will also support more legal staff to enforce violations of fair housing laws.

What Will Happen Next?

A president’s budget serves as an outline of the administration’s priorities. Congress can use it as a guidepost, but the final spending bills are often very different from what the president requested.

This is not a detailed budget proposal, with amounts laid out for every program. This is typical for a new administration because they have just taken office. A more detailed budget will be released in May.

Now that the Biden administration has laid out its housing priorities, housing advocates are turning their attention to Congress. The National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) is leading the HoUSed Campaign. The campaign is focused on increasing the supply of affordable housing so that everyone has a safe, affordable home.

The campaign has three major priorities it would like to see enacted this year:

  • Universal rental assistance. Only one in four households eligible for rental assistance receive it. Waiting lists are often two or more years long.  Congress should provide enough funding so that all eligible households can receive rental assistance.
  • $70 billion for the Public Housing Capital Fund. The Public Housing Capital Fund pays for public housing upgrades that are part of a building’s natural life. These are things like replacing boilers and roofs, or upgrading fire safety systems and plumbing.
  • $45 billion for the national Housing Trust Fund. The Housing Trust Fund supports the development and preservation of housing that is affordable to renters with the lowest incomes.

Congress is just now considering President Biden’s infrastructure plan and starting the appropriations process. The HoUSed campaign is hoping that it can help thousands of organizations and individuals reach out to their members of Congress. A similar campaign helped get billions of dollars for emergency rental assistance. Now it is time to demand a bigger investment in affordable housing for all.

Published by

Chris Holden

Chris Holden, Affordable Housing Online's Senior Housing Analyst, has been in the affordable housing field for 25 years. Originally from Keene, New Hampshire, he has worked as a researcher, policy analyst, lender, trainer and real estate developer. He also taught political science at Keene State College. He is focused on making housing policies more accessible for low-income renters.