MBA, Trade Groups Urge Support of Housing Supply & Affordability Act

The Mortgage Bankers Association and a broad coalition of more than 100 national and regional trade associations and community support groups urged Congress to pass S. 5061, the Housing Supply and Affordability Act, a bipartisan bill that would authorize $1.5 billion over five years for federal grants to local governments that commit to increase their supply of local housing.

The bill was introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and co-sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. A companion bill in the House is sponsored by Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., Jaime Herrerra Beutler, R-Wash., and Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio.

The bill creates a new Local Housing Policy Grant program to help regions, states, cities and tribes by encouraging adoption of pro-housing policies, housing plans and updated codes. The legislation, is designed to target funding to places in most need of housing and where there is the most significant imbalance of jobs and housing. It also prioritizes funding for communities with existing public transportation options.

The bill’s authors say it will spur regional planning and cooperation by giving special consideration to applicants from multi-jurisdictional coalitions. To avoid repeating the past mistakes of decades of discriminatory housing practices, it requires applicants to adopt policies that avoid displacement, including policies such as allowing duplexes, triplexes or fourplexes in areas zoned primarily for single-detached homes, allowing manufactured homes in areas zoned primarily for single-detached residential, and using property tax abatements to enable higher density and mixed-income communities.

The letter called the bill a “much -needed solution for the country’s housing woes.”

“We write with strong support of the Housing Supply and Affordability Act and urge its swift passage in Congress,” the letter said. “The legislation is an innovative and bipartisan approach to addressing one of the most critical issues of our time: housing affordability. We applaud you for identifying a legislative solution that provides federal support to a national challenge while preserving local and regional decision-making and implementation. It strikes a delicate and appropriate balance that should be a model for how Congress can continue to address the nation’s housing crisis.”

The letter notes the COVID-19 pandemic exposed and exacerbated the severity of the nation’s housing crisis. “While the pandemic affected everyone, it has been especially challenging for those who were already cost-burdened, spending more than 30% of their income on housing,” it said. “Cost-burdened individuals were more likely to work in the industries most susceptible to pandemic-related job loss and the ones who will have the most challenging roads to full recovery. As the country gets back on its feet, it is imperative that we not go back to a status quo that left too many Americans behind, many of the country’s renters cost burdened and our nation 7.3 million homes short of meeting housing needs.”