Changes to federal housing guidance unlock extra funding for affordable housing

WASHINGTON — There’s a shortage of more than seven million affordable housing units nationwide. The need comes as high demand and rent prices soar throughout the country.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition says this affordable housing crisis isn’t limited to one city or region. The group says low-income renters face a housing shortage in every state and major metropolitan area.

“Housing is a lifeline for people,” said Rep. Alma Adams, (D) North Carolina.

But it’s a lifeline that is getting more expensive nationwide.

That’s why Congresswoman Alma Adams said she pushed for changes to federal housing guidance.

Now, the U.S. Department of the Treasury is increasing the ability for states to use American Rescue Plan money it already has for new housing projects.

“They’ll be able to apply for tax credits and builders, they won’t be they won’t have to pass those costs on to people who are purchasing,” said Adams.

Another policy change expands how states can use federal funds. This includes efforts to repair and preserve existing affordable housing.

“So much of the affordable housing stock in this country has just been seen as suffering from under investment for so long that we’re at risk of seeing perfectly good homes, you know, deteriorate and fall apart,” said Carl Gershenson, project director at the Eviction Lab.

But Gershenson said this shortage was bad before the pandemic with long waiting lists for affordable units, and now the issue is even worse.

“Now, we’re adding more families to these lists that were already ridiculously long,” said Gershenson. “For people who had previously been able to afford the rent, the rent has gone up. They are now entering into the sort of chronic nightmare that so many other Americans are already facing.”

Officials say these changes will also make it easier to pay for long-term affordable housing loans.