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NLIHC Statement on President Biden’s State of the Union Address

Washington, D.C. – The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) applauds President Biden for outlining key proposals in his annual State of the Union address related to America’s affordable housing and homelessness crisis.

“In his State of the Union address, President Biden has elevated the challenges facing renters and the need for solutions more than any other president in recent history. His proposed actions to prevent rent gouging are historic and a major win for renters nationwide who have been struggling with sky-high rents and who are at increased risk of housing instability due to the power imbalance between landlords and renters,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. “Not mentioned in tonight’s address but included in the President’s fiscal year 2024 budget request is a proposal to guarantee universal rental assistance for low-income veterans and youth aging out of foster care. Congress should work quickly to enact this proposal and expand it to serve all households in need.”

In his State of the Union address, President Biden will urge Congress to enact legislation to build 2 million more affordable rental homes and will include the administration’s proposals to prevent rent gouging. His follow-up budget proposal will urge Congress to ensure universal rental assistance for veterans and youth aging out of foster care – a first step towards universal rental assistance for all eligible households.

These actions build on the historic steps already taken by the Biden-Harris administration to address America’s affordable housing and homelessness crisis. The administration’s Blueprint for a Renters’ Bill of Rights included commitments from key agencies, including the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Federal Trade Commission to advance renter protections. With its Housing Supply Action Plan, the White House has helped reduce barriers to housing, increase access to financing, and promote the conversion of commercial space to residential housing. Under the House America national initiative, the administration exceeded its ambitious goals to rehouse more than 140,000 people experiencing homelessness and to add 40,000 deeply affordable housing units to construction pipelines. The administration has launched a pilot program to allow states struggling to address homelessness to use Medicaid funds to provide affordable, stable homes for people exiting homelessness.

Despite these important efforts, however, the Biden-Harris administration is limited in its ability to address the underlying causes of America’s housing and homelessness crisis unless Congress invests in proven solutions at the scale needed.

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 7.3 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.

To fully end America’s housing and homelessness crisis, Congress and the administration must increase investments in long-term solutions. This process 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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