Today, at a full Committee hearing entitled, “Housing in America: Assessing the Infrastructure Needs of America’s Housing Stock,” Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee gave the following opening statement.
As Prepared for Delivery
Today this Committee convenes for a hearing on assessing the infrastructure needs of America’s housing stock.
Congress must recognize that our nation’s infrastructure extends beyond making investments in our roads, bridges, ports, and airports. It also includes our nation’s affordable housing.
We are in the midst of a housing affordability crisis. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there is a shortage of more than 7.2 million rental housing units that are affordable and available to the lowest income families. In fact, no state in America has an adequate supply of affordable housing for the lowest income renters. For example, California has a deficit of over a million affordable and available units. Wisconsin has a deficit of nearly 140,000 units. Mississippi has a deficit of nearly 50,000 units. New York has a deficit of over 600,000 units.
Rising rents and gentrification are part of this problem. For example, in my district, the city of Inglewood is experiencing economic development which, while it offers many benefits for the community, has also resulted in higher rents and led to displacement of residents. Affordable housing must be part of any solution or long-time - and often lower income - residents will lose their homes.
Our public housing system, which houses 2.6 million Americans, is also in dire need of investment to repair kitchens, elevators, baths, doors, windows, and roofs. There is a public housing capital need backlog of $70 billion, and around 10,000 units are lost each year as a result of disinvestment.
Neglecting our housing infrastructure hurts our economy. Studies have found that the lack of affordable housing hurts economic productivity and wages.
For all of these reasons, I have put forth a discussion draft that would make the investments we need in our housing infrastructure and create jobs across the country.
The bill contains:
- $1 billion to fully fund the backlog of capital needs for the Section 515 and 514 rural housing stock;
- $5 billion to support mitigation efforts that can protect communities from future disasters and reduce post-disaster federal spending;
- $5 billion for the Housing Trust Fund to support the creation of hundreds of thousands of new units of housing that would be affordable to the lowest income households;
- $100 million to help low income elderly households in rural areas age in place; and,
- $1 billion for the Native American Housing Block Grant Program to address substandard housing conditions on tribal lands;
- $10 billion for a CDBG set-aside to incentivize states and cities to eliminate impact fees and responsibly streamline the process for development of affordable housing; and
- $70 billion to fully address the public housing capital backlog.
We also need to consider ways to incentivize developers to reduce the energy costs of affordable housing and to create housing that accommodates generations of families living under one roof.
This Committee has already passed the Ending Homelessness Act to house the more than five hundred thousand persons experiencing homelessness, and is now turning its attention to addressing another aspect of the affordable housing crisis—the lack of housing infrastructure.
I now yield five minutes to the Ranking Member, the gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. McHenry.