President Biden today unveiled a $2 trillion transportation and infrastructure package that includes more than $200 billion for housing to build, preserve and retrofit more than 2 million homes and commercial buildings.
“NAHB commends President Biden for proposing a much-needed transportation and infrastructure plan for our nation that notes the important role that housing contributes to building strong communities,” said NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke. “With the nation facing a housing affordability crisis, the plan recognizes the urgent need to build more affordable housing and retrofit existing homes to increase energy efficiency. At the same time, the proposal includes troubling labor provisions and tax provisions to pay for the plan.”
The housing components of the plan include the following:
- Produce, preserve, and retrofit more than 1 million affordable, resilient, accessible, energy efficient, and electrified housing units. Through targeted tax credits, formula funding, grants, and project-based rental assistance, President Biden’s plan would extend affordable housing rental opportunities to underserved communities nationwide, including rural and tribal areas.
- Build and rehabilitate more than 500,000 homes for low- and middle-income home buyers. Biden is calling on Congress to take immediate steps to spur the construction and rehabilitation of homes for underserved communities. Specifically, he is calling on Congress to pass the bipartisan Neighborhood Homes Investment Act (NHIA). Offering $20 billion worth of NHIA tax credits over the next five years will result in approximately 500,000 homes built or rehabilitated, creating a pathway for more families to buy a home and start building wealth.
- Eliminate state and local exclusionary zoning laws. For decades, exclusionary zoning laws – like minimum lot sizes, mandatory parking requirements, and prohibitions on multifamily housing – have inflated housing and construction costs and locked families out of areas with more opportunities. Biden is calling on Congress to enact a new competitive grant program that awards flexible and attractive funding to jurisdictions that take concrete steps to eliminate such needless barriers to producing affordable housing.
- Address longstanding public housing capital needs. Years of disinvestment have left our public housing in disrepair. Biden is calling on Congress to invest $40 billion to improve the infrastructure of the public housing system in America. This funding will address critical life-safety concerns, mitigate imminent hazards to residents, and undertake energy efficiency measures which will significantly reduce ongoing operating expenses. These improvements will disproportionately benefit women, people of color and people with disabilities.
While there are many parts of this plan that NAHB could support, other provisions are much more problematic. For example, while the White House is calling on Congress to invest $100 billion in workforce development, the administration is also calling on federal lawmakers to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.
NAHB strongly opposes the PRO Act, which would expand employers’ liability for the labor practices of subcontractors and third-party vendors and narrow the circumstances under which an individual can work as an independent contractor — effectively gutting the contracting business model that serves as the foundation of the residential construction sector.
NAHB is studying all the provisions in this huge infrastructure proposal as several could be positive for housing while others would not. As the White House engages with bipartisan leaders in Congress to turn the proposal into legislation, NAHB looks forward to working with policymakers to advance an infrastructure package that addresses the nation’s housing affordability challenges and pays for it in a way that will not jeopardize future economic growth.