The House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing called, “Nowhere to Live: Profits, Disinvestment, and the American Housing Crisis,” to discuss skyrocketing housing costs and the urgent need for quality affordable housing across the country. The hearing highlighted the U.S. housing shortage and how it has been exacerbated by the pandemic, as well as the racial disparities in eviction rates, displacement, and homeownership that have stemmed from the country’s history of discrimination and redlining.
In his opening statement, Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) stressed that housing is a basic need for all Americans and lauded Congress’s investments in the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit), the country’s number one tool for building and preserving affordable rental housing. One of the hearing witnesses, Audra Hamernik, President and CEO of Nevada HAND, highlighted how the Housing Credit is a model public-private partnership with strong, effective oversight and called the program the “backbone” of affordable housing. Representative Suzan DelBene (D-WA), who is a lead cosponsor of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (AHCIA), legislation to strengthen and expand the program, voiced her support for the Housing Credit and called for passage of the AHCIA to expand affordable housing production. Representative DelBene was joined by several other Members of Congress who also voiced their support for the program.
A number of committee members also emphasized the importance of passing the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act, which is modeled after the Housing Credit and would bolster the supply of single-family housing by addressing the value gap of homes in distressed communities. Another witness at the hearing, Dr. Akilah Watkins, President and CEO of the Center for Community Progress, stressed that in many cities, the cost to rehab a home exceeds its purchase price and that the legislation would address this issue and increase private investment in blighted communities.