December 11, 2018

Members of Congressional Black Caucus, Including Chairman Cedric Richmond, Introduce House Companion to Warren's Historic Legislation to Confront Affordable Housing Crisis

According to independent economic analysis, legislation will reduce rents by 10% and create 1.5 million new jobs with no deficit impact

Civil rights groups say the bill is a critical step towards reversing the legacy of racial discrimination in the United States

Senate Bill Text (PDF)Bill Summary (PDF) | Moody's Independent Analysis (PDF) | Video (Facebook)

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) applauds Representative Cedric Richmond (D-La.), Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus and three other members of the CBC, Representatives Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), for introducing companion legislation to Senator Warren's American Housing and Economic Mobility Act.

Senator Warren introduced the Senate version of this bill in September.  The bill will bring down costs for renters and buyers and level the playing field so families everywhere can find a decent place to live at a decent price and help reverse the effects of decades of housing discrimination on communities of color.

According to an independent analysis of the legislation from Mark Zandi, Chief Economist of non-partisan Moody's Analytics, the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act would build or rehabilitate more than 3 million units over the next decade and fully close the current gap between housing demand and supply, create 1.5 million new jobs at its peak impact, bring down rents for lower-income and middle-class families by 10%-saving families an average of $100 per month-and produce no long-term deficit impact.

"I'm excited to fight alongside Representatives Richmond, Lee, Cummings, and Moore for bold new legislation that confronts the shameful history of government-backed housing discrimination and is designed to benefit those families who have been denied opportunities to build wealth because of the color of their skin," said Senator Warren. "Our legislation makes an historic investment in neighborhoods all across the country, including communities of color, rural communities and Native American communities that have been hardest hit by government negligence, disinvestment, and discrimination without adding a single dime to the national debt."

"Having a home is one of the most essential human needs for thriving families and individuals, but many families long across the nation for far too long have been restricted from homeownership due to increasing rent prices and paychecks that don't match," said Congressman Richmond. "The American Housing and Economic Mobility Act is a comprehensive bill aimed to combat the affordable housing crisis that continues to plague our nation. Having stable, affordable housing is life-changing and brings the promise of economic freedom to all. This legislation aims to provide that for millions of American families, namely African American communities who have been historically and systematically left without stable housing. I applaud the work of Senator Warren on introducing this bill in the Senate and am honored to carry the torch in introducing it in the House."

"It's long been apparent that our nation's affordable housing crisis has the greatest impact on minority, low-income, and underserved populations," said Congresswoman Moore. "In Milwaukee and across the country, housing insecurity is threatening families' access to food, education, and even childcare. Every American deserves access to a safe and affordable home, and I am honored to join Senator Warren and Reps. Richmond, Lee, and Cummings in the fight to ensure all our community members are affordably housed."

"We need urgent action to address the housing crisis, which is why I am proud to support the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act. This visionary piece of legislation will help turn the tide of this emergency," said Congresswoman Lee. "By expanding the Housing Trust Fund, strengthening the Fair Housing Act, and coordinating with state and local governments, this bill will fight housing discrimination and invest in affordable housing for the poor and working class, communities of color, and our most vulnerable. Moreover, it will open doors of opportunity so that families can afford the basics-including health care and education-and lift themselves into the middle class. This bill is a roadmap to affordable, accessible housing for all."

"On behalf of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), I commend Congressman Richmond for his leadership in advancing bold and comprehensive solutions to help end housing poverty and homelessness in America once and for all," said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of National Low Income Housing Coalition. "The American Housing and Economic Mobility Act puts forward an ambitious plan to significantly expand investments in proven solutions, like the National Housing Trust Fund, to help millions of the lowest income families who struggle to pay rent and put food on the table, buy medication, or save for a rainy day. Congress should quickly enact this bill to provide the lowest income seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, and others the breadth of opportunities that come from having a stable, affordable place to call home."

"This bill tackles the increasing rent burden and barriers to homeownership faced by millions of Americans," said Jesse Van Tol, CEO of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. "It represents a bold vision for one of the most elusive problems of 21st century America: the lack of financial opportunity for too many people."

"The National Fair Housing Alliance is proud to support the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act. By adding a number of new protected classes under the Fair Housing Act, including source of income and several others, the bill would move the country towards making fair housing a reality for all. We also commend Senator Warren and Congressman Richmond for acknowledging the racial discrimination created and perpetuated by the federal government and offering concrete proposals to redress it.  By enacting this bill, Congress will be taking an important step toward building a more equitable and inclusive America," said Debby Goldberg, Vice President, Housing Policy & Special Projects at the National Fair Housing Alliance.

"Factors like state and local zoning rules, reductions in federal investments, and historic patterns of discrimination have all reduced the supply of affordable housing for communities that the Fair Housing Act was meant to protect, and frankly, for everybody. There has been a dearth of ideas about what can actually be done about the supply. But this bill has created such a thoughtful response on so many fronts that need to be addressed, which is why we hope that there's going to be a lot more conversation about it in the coming year. We're glad to be a part of it, and we strongly support this effort," said Rob Randhava, Senior Counsel, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

A video of the speakers' remarks at the press conference is available here.

The American Housing and Economic Mobility Act will:  

  • Increase federal funding to build or rehabilitate 3.2 million new housing units for lower-income and middle-class families and bring down rents by 10% in urban, suburban and rural areas.
  • Provide down payment grants to first-time homebuyers living in lower-income, formerly redlined or officially segregated areas to allow those families to start building home equity and close the racial wealth gap.
  • Put $10 billion into a new competitive grant program that communities can use to build infrastructure, parks, roads, or schools-as long as local governments reform land use rules that make construction of new affordable housing needlessly more expensive and exclude new residents.
  • Invest $2 billion to support borrowers whose wealth was destroyed in the 2008 financial crisis and who still have negative equity on their mortgages.
  • Expand the Fair Housing Act to prohibit housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, and source of income, including government assistance.
  • Strengthen the Community Reinvestment Act to cover more financial institutions, promote investment in activities that help poor and middle-class communities, and strengthen sanctions against institutions that fail to follow the rules.
  • Make it easier to use housing vouchers in neighborhoods with good schools and good jobs and allows tribal housing authorities to administer their own vouchers programs.

To fully offset the cost of this historic effort, the bill returns the estate tax thresholds to their levels at the end of the George W. Bush administration and institutes more progressive rates above those thresholds. These changes will affect only about 10,000 of the wealthiest families in the country.

The American Housing and Economic Mobility Act has been endorsed by numerous civil rights groups and housing advocates. The full list of endorsements is available here.