A House version of a sweeping bill aimed at combating the nation’s housing crisis has been introduced.
Rep. Cedric Richmond’s (D-La.) legislation, the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, is the companion bill to a massive housing proposal introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in September.
“This bill for us is not only realistic, practical, and would create so many jobs and so much investment across the country, but it’s a marker on who we are as a country,” said Richmond, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Co-sponsors include Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), and Gwen Moore (D-Wis.).
“The housing crisis is one of our biggest, most complicated problems,” said Warren as she joined Richmond in announcing the House bill. “Big problems require big solutions. I am in this fight for the long haul. This is about our values.”
Warren said her bill (S. 3503) will increase federal funding to build or rehabilitate 3 million housing units across the nation over the next decade, produce about 1.5 million new jobs at its peak, and bring down rents for lower- and middle-income families by about 10%.
To offset the cost of this effort, the bill returns the estate tax thresholds to their levels at the end of the George W. Bush administration and institutes more progressive rates above those thresholds. These changes will affect about 10,000 of the wealthiest families in the country, according to Warren.
The legislation seeks to invest $445 billion in the National Housing Trust Fund (HTF) over 10 years as well as $25 billion in the Capital Magnet Fund. It also calls for investing $4 billion in a new Middle-Class Housing Emergency Fund, which supports the construction of homes for middle-class buyers and renters where there’s a supply shortage and housing costs are rising faster than incomes.
At this time, both HTF and the Capital Magnet Fund are supported by contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Mel Watt, head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), called on the government-sponsored enterprises to begin directing money into the two funds at the end of 2014.
Advocates will be watching to see what happens when Watt’s term at FHFA, the agency that oversee Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, ends in January. President Trump has nominated Mark Calabria, chief economist for vice president Mike Pence, to replace Watt.