House of Representatives passes Build Back Better, which includes critical investments in affordable housing and home health care. Massive social spending measure awaits consideration by the Senate.
The Build Back Better (BBB) package, which includes critical investments in housing and home health care, was passed by the House, on November 19, by a vote of 220-213, almost entirely along party lines. No Republicans who voted supported the measure and of the Democrats who voted only one was opposed.
The BBB package includes more than $150 billion in affordable housing assistance. The three most significant affordable housing investments are $25 billion for permanent rental assistance, $15 billion for the Housing Trust Fund, and $65 billion for public housing. Also included in the BBB package is a $150 billion expansion in Medicaid’s Home and Community-Based Services program, which could be used to pay for supportive housing services for people experiencing homelessness who have acute needs.
Even after House approval of the BBB package, it must then be passed by the Senate; and because the measure will be changed by the Senate it will have to be passed again by the House. Because the Senate tends to work slowly, it is likely that the effort to pass the BBB package will continue far into December. Passage requires the support of all 48 Democratic Senators and two Independents who are allied with the Democrats. Currently, two Democrats, Senator Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), have expressed reservations about the BBB package, although neither has publicly indicated opposition to the housing and home health care provisions. Bottom line: we are closer than ever before to historic new investments in low-income housing, but there is still much work to be done over the next several weeks in order to make these proposals a reality.
DETAILS: The major low-income housing investments included in the BBB package, more than $150 billion overall, although less than the Alliance and low-income housing activists had sought, would nonetheless be transformative:
- $25 billion in permanent rental assistance, which is sufficient to fund 300,000 new housing vouchers over five years and maintain them until 2029, including
$15 billion for tenant-based rental assistance for extremely low-income families;
$7.1 billion for households experiencing or at risk of homelessness, survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking, and survivors of trafficking;
$1 billion for tenant-based protection vouchers for relocation and replacement of public housing units demolished or disposed as part of a public housing preservation or project-based replacement transaction; and
$1 billion in project-based replacement assistance.
2. $15 billion for the national Housing Trust Fund (HTF) to preserve and build homes that are affordable to extremely low-income households; and
3. $65 billion to restore public housing, including $10 billion for the Capital Fund and $53 billion for priority investments as determined by the Secretary to repair, replace, or construct properties.
These investments in low-income housing would be transformative—allowing hundreds of thousands of families to move into affordable housing, adding 150,000 homes affordable to families of modest means, and making habitable once again tens of thousands of units of public housing.
However, they are clearly insufficient to resolve the nation’s critical shortage of low-income housing and end the scourge of homelessness. These investments would be a remarkable step forward, but many additional steps must be taken. The Alliance will continue to advocate for, among other things, permanent rental assistance for all eligible households.
Please let the Alliance’s John Threlkeld (firstname.lastname@example.org) know if you have any questions about legislation.