Where the Build Back Better Bill Stands for Housing Funds

As has been all over the news, legislation to fund some of President Biden’s Build Back Better framework is held up in the Senate, with 49 Democrats apparently in favor and one Democrat (and all 50 Republicans) opposed.

The bill that passed the House includes $170 billion for housing – enough for 300,000 new Housing Choice Vouchers, as well as funding for new housing development and preservation of public housing units. The Senate version being discussed includes these funds, as well as money for Home and Community Based Services through Medicaid, continuation of refundable Child Tax Credits, and other priorities.

While negotiations are still ongoing, it may be possible to enact parts of the package. Much of what will pass depends on the support of the one opposing Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin – and there are several aspects of the bill that he supports. The Alliance has always considered Senator Manchin to be helpful on homelessness issues, although neither he nor anyone else has said publicly whether he has objections to the housing provisions in the House bill.

The Senate is on recess until the first week of January, so it’s unlikely that any plan for dealing with the situation is going to be carried out before then. In a few weeks, there should be a better understanding about whether securing these housing and other resources is feasible, and what strategy will give us the best chance of success.

Decisions about “regular” annual spending levels for Fiscal Year 2022 are also on the horizon, including substantial proposed increases to homeless assistance, tenant-based rental assistance, and other important accounts. Anyone who has the chance to remind the public, local leaders, and members of Congress about how good solutions to homelessness have been held back by inadequate funding, please do so.

I hope everyone who’s able will have a good celebration of the end and new beginning that’s upon us. Please stay safe, and set aside some time and energy in the new year to help members of Congress understand why these priorities are important.