NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel participated last week in a White House meeting on housing supply and affordability. Held in the Roosevelt Room of the White House’s West Wing, the meeting included White House officials Brian Deese (director of the National Economic Council), Marcia L. Fudge (secretary of HUD), Sandra Thompson (director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency), and Gene Sperling (senior advisor to the president). Other attendees included the CEOs of the National Association of Realtors, National Multifamily Housing Council, Mortgage Bankers Association, National Association of Home Builders, National Fair Housing Alliance, Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, and National Housing Conference. The meeting focused on legislative and administrative housing priorities for the remainder of this year.
Diane highlighted the pronounced struggles that low-income renters face with increasing inflation and skyrocketing rents. She noted that if left unchecked, higher rents will increase homelessness, with all its associated costs to children, families, and communities across the country. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found that an increase of $100 per month in median monthly rent is associated with a 9% increase in homelessness. Last year, rents increased by nearly $200 per month. Diane noted that increased homelessness can be visible and countable – in growing encampments and increased requests for shelter – but also invisible, as suggested by the case of a mother who emailed NLIHC last week and who is sleeping in a storage unit with her disabled son after their landlord raised rents and evicted them.
To increase affordable housing supply, NLIHC is urging that a year-end tax extenders bill include an expansion of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program as well as essential reforms to ensure the deeper affordability of new units. The Biden administration should also continue to tie new infrastructure funding to local zoning reform.
At the same time, Diane explained, it must be recognized that building our way out of the housing supply hole we have dug for ourselves will take years. For this reason, the Biden administration must act now to prevent increased evictions and homelessness by:
- Urging Congress to provide the highest possible funding for new incremental Housing Choice Vouchers.
- Tying key renter protections to government-backed mortgages.
- Holding institutional investors accountable for predatory and egregious actions against tenants.
- Continuing to encourage the enactment of state and local tenant protections with accelerant funding through Emergency Rental Assistance, State and Local Fiscal Relief Funding, and other means.
- Continuing the 100% federal reimbursement for Non-Congregate Sheltering of people experiencing homelessness.
NLIHC appreciated the opportunity to share these priorities with senior officials from the Biden administration and looks forward to a continuing partnership with the White House to increase housing supply and affordability and protect low-income renters and people experiencing homelessness.