Letters to Congress: Letter Urging Congress to Focus on Affordable Homeownership in Budget Reconciliation

August 25, 2021 

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Chairwoman Waters, Chairman Brown, Chairman Neal,  and Chairman Wyden:  

Thank you for including initiatives in the Budget Reconciliation bill to address the nation’s  housing affordability challenges. Housing is most families’ largest expense, and stable,  affordable homes are indispensable for Americans’ health, education, and well-being. We  support the entire continuum of housing assistance in the package, including aid for the  homeless and support for affordable rental housing. That said, we are writing to urge you to  ensure housing affordability challenges are addressed comprehensively with a strong focus on  expanding affordable homeownership.  

Homeownership is essential to expanding economic opportunity, a key focus of the  reconciliation package. Homeownership offers families the benefits of stable housing costs, and  the ability to build assets as home equity increases. It is associated with better health,  education, and public safety outcomes. In many parts of the country, homeownership is less  expensive than renting, especially for lower-income families. No investment alternative is as  beneficial as homeownership for wealth building. If we want to close our nation’s stark racial  gaps in wealth, we will need to make homeownership accessible to communities of color long  disadvantaged by historical housing discrimination. 

Expanding access to homeownership should address both supply and demand, i.e., policies that  build and repair homes to increase the supply of affordable homes as well as policies that  expand access to homeownership such as down payment assistance. 

We ask Congress to support the following legislative initiatives to boost homeownership  opportunities:  

  • The Neighborhood Homes Investment Act (H.R. 2143 & S.98) would revitalize  distressed urban, suburban and rural neighborhoods by using targeted tax credits  administered by the states to mobilize private investment to renovate homes for  owner-occupancy. Analysts have estimated this targeted tax credit would result in  500,000 new or renovated homes available for low- and moderate-income  homeowners over the next decade. 
  • The Downpayment Toward Equity Act (H.R. 4495) would provide targeted  down payment assistance to first-generation homebuyers to ensure that  homeownership opportunities are accessible to homebuyers whose lack of  access to generational wealth removes a key resource that many other buyers  use. This assistance is especially important for homebuyers of color, whose lack  of generational wealth is often attributable to the nation’s history of housing  discrimination. Funding request is at least $50 billion. 
  • Expansion of existing programs that increase supply and access to homeownership:  The Housing is Infrastructure Act of 2021 would boost funds in programs such as the  HOME program and the Capital Magnet Fund that are used to assist mission-driven  homebuilders to develop homes affordable to low- and very-income households in a  wide range of communities. Funding request is $35 billion for HOME and $12 billion  for the Capital Magnet Fund. 
  • The Restoring Communities Left Behind Act (H.R. 816 & S. 2300) would create  new homeownership opportunities in communities struggling with blight and  disinvestment and enable complementary investments in neighborhood  infrastructure to further connect neighborhood residents and local businesses  to their community’s economic recovery. Funding request is $10 billion.  
  • Zoning Reform Incentives: The Housing is Infrastructure Act of 2021 (H.R. 4497) would make supplemental CDBG funds available on a competitive basis to  jurisdictions that reform exclusionary, restrictive zoning that inhibits the  development of affordable housing. Funding request is $5 billion. 

Safe and affordable homes provide the physical foundation for success in nearly every aspect of  our lives. They strengthen families, neighborhoods, and businesses and pay tremendous  dividends for our economy and public health. Investing in our nation’s housing infrastructure by  building and preserving homes for affordable homeownership will fortify our communities and  will expand an economic recovery for all of us.  

Thank you for your support and consideration.  

View or download a PDF of the letter here.