Washington, D.C. – The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) applauds the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) for exceeding the ambitious goals set by the Biden-Harris administration for “House America,” a national initiative to address the nation’s homelessness crisis.
“HUD’s House America initiative is a remarkable success, proving that a combination of leadership, a Housing First approach, and federal resources ends homelessness,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. “Homelessness is one of our country’s most urgent, tragic, and solvable crises. With the political will to fund solutions at the scale necessary, we could take House America to scale to fully invest in proven solutions and end homelessness in our country, once and for all.”
The House America initiative encouraged state, local, and tribal governments to use the significant resources provided in the “American Rescue Plan Act” and the “CARES Act” – including emergency housing vouchers, funding for the construction of affordable housing, and additional state and local relief funds – to help more than 100,000 people exit homelessness and to begin construction of 20,000 deeply affordable housing units.
Importantly, the House America plan fully embraced Housing First, an evidence-based strategy that quickly connects people to homes and helps them access voluntary services, such as substance use treatment, peer support, and employment services. Housing First is backed by decades of research and has garnered bipartisan support from Republican and Democratic administrations, policymakers, experts, and people with lived expertise.
The underlying cause of America’s housing and homelessness crisis is the severe shortage of homes affordable and available to people with the lowest incomes and the widening gap between incomes and housing costs. There is a national shortage of 7 million homes that are affordable and available to America’s lowest-income renters – those earning less than either the federal poverty rate or 30% of their area median income, whichever is greater. The severe shortage of homes for extremely low-income renters is a structural feature of the country’s housing system, consistently impacting every state and nearly every community. Despite the clear and urgent need, Congress only provides housing assistance to one in four eligible households.
“Despite the remarkable success of House America, homelessness continues to increase in many communities due to the increasing gap between the cost of housing and what people with the lowest incomes can afford to pay,” said Yentel. “Without affordable housing options, 10 million of the lowest-income renter households pay at least half of their income on rent, leaving them one financial shock – from a broken-down car, a sick child, a high heating bill – away from eviction and homelessness.”
To fully end America’s housing and homelessness crisis, Congress and the administration must increase investments in long-term solutions to America’s housing crisis. This should start with ensuring rental assistance is universally available to all eligible households, preserving and expanding the supply of homes affordable to people with the lowest incomes through investments in the national Housing Trust Fund and public housing, making emergency rental assistance programs permanently available to households in need, and strengthening and enforcing robust renter protections.
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