The Biden Plan for Investing in Our Communities through Housing
Joe Biden is running for President to rebuild the middle class and ensure that this time everyone comes along. He believes the middle class isn’t a number, but a value set which includes the ability to own your own home and live in a safe community. Housing should be a right, not a privilege.
Today, however, far too many Americans lack access to affordable and quality housing. Nationwide, we have a shortage of available, affordable housing units for low-income individuals. Tens of millions of Americans spend more than 30% of their income on housing – leaving them with nowhere near enough money left over to meet other needs, from groceries to prescription drugs. And, tens of millions of Americans live in homes that endanger their health and safety.
Communities of color are disproportionately impacted by the failures in our housing markets, with homeownership rates for Black and Latino individuals falling far below the rate for white individuals. Because home ownership is how many families save and build wealth, these racial disparities in home ownership contribute to the racial wealth gap. It is far past time to put an end to systemic housing discrimination and other contributors to this disparity.
As President, Joe Biden will invest $640 billion over 10 years so every American has access to housing that is affordable, stable, safe and healthy, accessible, energy efficient and resilient, and located near good schools and with a reasonable commute to their jobs. Biden will do this by:
- Ending redlining and other discriminatory and unfair practices in the housing market.
- Providing financial assistance to help hard-working Americans buy or rent safe, quality housing, including down payment assistance through a refundable and advanceable tax credit and fully funding federal rental assistance.
- Increasing the supply, lowering the cost, and improving the quality of housing, including through investments in resilience, energy efficiency, and accessibility of homes.
- Pursuing a comprehensive approach to ending homelessness.
Housing is an essential part of Biden’s broader strategy to grow strong, healthy communities in every zip code – from his plan to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure and revitalize local economies to his plan to invest in our public schools.
|The Biden Principles for Housing
While the housing challenges Americans face in different rural and urban communities across the country may vary, every American in every zip code should have access to housing that is:
END REDLINING AND OTHER DISCRIMINATORY AND UNFAIR PRACTICES IN THE HOUSING MARKET
- Protect homeowners and renters from abusive lenders and landlords through a new Homeowner and Renter Bill of Rights. Modeled on the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, Biden will enact legislation to end many shortcomings in the mortgage and rental markets. This new Bill of Rights will prevent mortgage brokers from leading borrowers into loans that cost more than appropriate, prevent mortgage servicers from advancing a foreclosure when the homeowner is in the process of receiving a loan modification, give homeowners a private right of action to seek financial redress from mortgage lenders and servicers that violate these protections, and give borrowers the right to a timely notification on the status of their loan modifications and to be able to appeal modification denials. Building on the Obama-Biden Administration’s Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act, the Bill of Rights will also expand protections for renters. For example, the Bill of Rights will include a law prohibiting landlords from discriminating against renters receiving federal housing benefits.
- Protect tenants from eviction. Housing evictions can have devastating consequences for families and often stem from relatively small shortfalls in rent. As a former public defender, Biden appreciates the difference legal representation can make for those facing eviction. As President, he will work to enact Majority Whip James E. Clyburn and Senator Michael Bennet’s Legal Assistance to Prevent Evictions Act of 2020, which will help tenants facing eviction access legal assistance. He also will encourage localities to create eviction diversion programs, including mediation, payment plans, and financial literacy education programs.
- Eliminate local and state housing regulations that perpetuate discrimination. Exclusionary zoning has for decades been strategically used to keep people of color and low-income families out of certain communities. As President, Biden will enact legislation requiring any state receiving federal dollars through the Community Development Block Grants or Surface Transportation Block Grants to develop a strategy for inclusionary zoning, as proposed in the HOME Act of 2019 by Majority Whip Clyburn and Senator Cory Booker. Biden will also invest $300 million in Local Housing Policy Grants to give states and localities the technical assistance and planning support they need to eliminate exclusionary zoning policies and other local regulations that contribute to sprawl.
- Hold financial institutions accountable for discriminatory practices in the housing market. The Obama-Biden Administration held major national financial institutions accountable for discriminatory lending practices, securing hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements to help borrowers who had been harmed by their practices. And in 2013, the Obama-Biden Administration codified a long-standing, court-supported view that lending practices that have a discriminatory effect can be challenged even if discrimination was not explicit. But now the Trump Administration is seeking to gut this disparate impact standard by significantly increasing the burden of proof for those claiming discrimination. In the Biden Administration, this change will be reversed to ensure financial institutions are held accountable for serving all customers.
- Strengthen and expand the Community Reinvestment Act to ensure that our nation’s bank and non-bank financial services institutions are serving all communities. The Community Reinvestment Act currently regulates banks, but does little to ensure that “fintechs” and non-bank lenders are providing responsible access to all members of the community. On top of that gap, the Trump Administration is proposing to weaken the law by allowing lenders to receive a passing rating even if the lenders are excluding many neighborhoods and borrowers. Biden will expand the Community Reinvestment Act to apply to mortgage and insurance companies, to add a requirement for financial services institutions to provide a statement outlining their commitment to the public interest, and, importantly, to close loopholes that would allow these institutions to avoid lending and investing in all of the communities they serve.
- Roll back Trump Administration policies gutting fair lending and fair housing protections for homeowners. Biden will implement the Obama-Biden Administration’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule requiring communities receiving certain federal funding to proactively examine housing patterns and identify and address policies that have a discriminatory effect. The Trump Administration suspended this rule in 2018. Biden will ensure effective and rigorous enforcement of the Fair Housing Act and the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. And, he will reinstate the federal risk-sharing program which has helped secure financing for thousands of affordable rental housing units in partnership with housing finance agencies.
- Restore the federal government’s power to enforce settlements against discriminatory lenders. The Trump Administration has stripped the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity, a division of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, of its power to enforce settlements against lenders found to have discriminated against borrowers – for example by charging significantly higher interest rates for people of color than white individuals. Biden will return power to the division so it can protect consumers from discrimination.
- Tackle racial bias that leads to homes in communities of color being assessed by appraisers below their fair value. Housing in communities primarily comprised of people of color is valued at tens of thousands of dollars below majority-white communities even when all other factors are the same, contributing to the racial wealth gap. To counteract this racial bias, Biden will establish a national standard for housing appraisals that ensures appraisers have adequate training and a full appreciation for neighborhoods and do not hold implicit biases because of a lack of community understanding. An objective national standard for appraisals will also make it harder for financial institutions to put pressure on appraisers to their benefit.
PROVIDE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO HELP HARD-WORKING AMERICANS BUY OR RENT QUALITY HOUSING
- Help families buy their first homes and build wealth by creating a new refundable, advanceable tax credit of up to $15,000. Biden’s new First Down Payment Tax Credit will help families offset the costs of homebuying and help millions of families lay down roots for the first time. Building off of a temporary tax credit expanded as part of the Recovery Act, this tax credit will be permanent and advanceable, meaning that homebuyers receive the tax credit when they make the purchase instead of waiting to receive the assistance when they file taxes the following year.
- Provide Section 8 housing vouchers to every eligible family so that no one has to pay more than 30% of their income for rental housing. Roughly three in four households eligible for Section 8 rental assistance do not receive housing assistance because the program is underfunded. Biden’s approach is straightforward: the Section 8 rental housing assistance program should be fully funded so that everyone eligible gets the assistance they need to pay their rent for a safe home. Biden will devote resources to both voucher-based rental assistance and the project-based program. Over time, this approach will provide assistance to at least 17 million low-income families. And, as part of the Homeowner and Renter Bill of Rights, Biden will enact a law prohibiting landlords from discriminating against renters receiving federal housing benefits.
- Create a new renter’s tax credit to help more low-income families. Biden will work with Congress to enact a new renter’s tax credit, designed to reduce rent and utilities to 30% of income for low-income individuals and families who may make too much money to qualify for a Section 8 voucher but still struggle to pay their rent. He will allocate $5 billion in federal funding for the tax credit every year.
- Expand housing benefits for first-responders, public school educators, and other public and national service workers who commit to living in persistently impoverished communities or who work in neighborhoods with low affordable housing stock. Biden will expand the Good Neighbor Next Door program, which is designed to help strengthen communities that have experienced significant underinvestment and high rates of poverty while also providing opportunities for first responders, educators, and those engaged in national service to purchase homes in those same communities. Specifically, Biden will expand the program through additional down-payment assistance, partnering with state housing agencies, tribal governments, local governments, and state/local banks to offer the program’s existing significant discount on the price of a home on a larger pool of homes, and providing access to a low-interest loan to rehabilitate these homes. And, he will ensure these resources are also available to public servants who work in neighborhoods with low affordable housing stock.
- Create the Public Credit Reporting Agency. Being able to obtain a credit report is a critical step for homeownership. But today credit reports, which are issued by just three large private companies, are rife with problems: they often contain errors, they leave many “credit invisible” due to the sources used to generate a credit score, and they contribute to racial disparities. Biden will create a new public credit reporting agency within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to provide consumers with a government option that seeks to minimize racial disparities, for example by ensuring the algorithms used for credit scoring don’t have a discriminatory impact, and by accepting non-traditional sources of data like rental history and utility bills to establish credit.
|Reducing Greenhouse Gases and Lowering Working Families’ Electricity Bills
As Biden announced in his climate plan, he will set a target of reducing the carbon footprint of the U.S. building stock 50% by 2035, creating incentives for deep retrofits that combine appliance electrification, efficiency, and on-site clean power generation. In addition to the $10 billion retrofitting fund described below, other policies he will pursue to reduce the carbon footprint of residential buildings include:
Read Biden’s full plan to address the climate emergency at joebiden.com/climate.
INCREASE THE SUPPLY, LOWER THE COST, AND IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF HOUSING
- Establish a $100 billion Affordable Housing Fund to construct and upgrade affordable housing.
- $65 billion in new incentives for state housing authorities and the Indian Housing Block Grant program to construct or rehabilitate low-cost, efficient, resilient, and accessible housing in areas where affordable housing is in short supply. These funds will be directed toward communities that are suffering from an affordability crisis and that are willing to implement new zoning laws that encourage more affordable housing.
- $10 billion to make homes more energy efficient. This retrofitting will lower families’ energy bills, create jobs for workers in the trades in every state in the nation, and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
- $5 billion to increase the stock of affordable housing as part of larger community development efforts. Specifically, these funds will expand the HOME program, ensuring that the program’s requirements are more conducive to supporting first-time homebuyers, and the Capital Magnet Fund, which spurs private investment in affordable housing and economic development in distressed communities. Among other uses, localities can use these funds to purchase vacant, underdeveloped, or underutilized property and construct affordable housing.
- Increase funding for the Housing Trust Fund by $20 billion. Biden will increase the availability of affordable housing through the Housing Trust Fund, paid for by an increase in the assessment on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These additional dollars will support the construction and rehabilitation of affordable housing units.
- Provide tax incentives for the construction of more affordable housing in communities that need it most. As President, Biden will expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit – a tax provision designed to incentivize the construction or rehabilitation of affordable housing for low-income tenants that has created nearly 3 million affordable housing units since the mid-1980s – with a $10 billion investment. This investment will be designed to make the credit more efficient, dramatically increasing the number of new or rehabilitated affordable housing units. And, he will ensure that urban, suburban, and rural areas all benefit from the credit. Biden will also invest in the development and rehabilitation of single family homes across distressed urban, suburban, and rural neighborhoods through the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act.
- Invest in community development. In addition to the community development Biden is proposing as part of his infrastructure initiative, he will also expand flexible funding for the Community Development Block Grant by $10 billion over ten years. The Community Development Block Grant funds local efforts to expand affordable housing, improve infrastructure, and increase economic opportunities for low-income individuals and communities. These funds are flexible federal grants that localities receive to deal with their specific challenges and support stabilization and infrastructure.
- Eliminate local and state housing regulations that limit affordable housing options and contribute to urban sprawl. Housing policy can be used as a tool to battle climate change. Many lower- and middle-income Americans are forced to live far away from job centers due to high housing costs, leading not only to workers being overburdened by long commutes and transportation costs, but also to higher greenhouse gas emissions. Biden will tie new federal investments in housing to a requirement that states and localities eliminate regulations that reduce the availability of affordable housing and contribute to sprawl. He will direct his Secretaries of Housing and Urban Development and Transportation to identify existing federal grant programs that can be amended by adding zoning reform as a requirement. And, Biden will expand investments in Local Housing Policy Grants to give states and localities the technical assistance and planning support they need to modernize housing regulations.
- Ensure minority-owned businesses benefit from investment in housing construction and repair. To further support wealth creation among Black and Latino families, Biden will require his Administration to take all available steps to make sure minority-owned businesses are able to benefit from ongoing and new federal housing and infrastructure spending.
|Use federal transit dollars to leverage local investment in transit and affordable housing
Smart transit and regional planning policies are essential for ensuring access to affordable housing, avoiding sprawl, improving quality of life by reducing the distance between living and leisure areas, and mitigating climate change. To meet these goals, Biden will ensure a portion of new federal transit dollars are designed to leverage local investment in both transit and affordable housing in transit corridors. Biden has proposed the following new transit investments:
Read Biden’s full infrastructure plan at joebiden.com/infrastructure.
- Ensure rural communities have access to affordable and accessible homes. The Biden Administration will increase funding for needed repairs of affordable rental housing properties and construction of new property through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service, including the Multi-Family Direct Loans and the Single Family Direct Loans programs, which support the construction of housing for low income, disabled, or elderly individuals in rural communities. Majority Whip Clyburn’s 10-20-30 plan has already been applied to a number of Rural Development programs in order to ensure a portion of funds are dedicated to serving families living in areas facing persistent poverty. As President, Biden will apply the 10-20-30 plan to all federal programs.
- Expand funding for mission-driven, community-based financial institutions that invest in building new housing in underserved areas. As part of his plan to reinvest in communities across the country, including in rural areas, Biden will expand funding for the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, which supports local, “mission-driven” financial institutions in low-income areas around the U.S. – including those invested in building new housing in underserved areas.
- Drive additional capital into low-income communities to spur the development of low-income housing. The New Markets Tax Credit has drawn in $8 of private investment for every $1 of federal investment in low-income communities by providing tax credits to investors in community development organizations that support everything from supermarkets to real estate projects to manufacturing plants. Biden will expand the program to provide $5 billion in support every year, and will make the program permanent so communities can take the credit into account in their long-term planning.
For all of these new housing investments, those receiving assistance will be required to abide by Davis-Bacon Act wage requirements so that jobs created with these investments support family sustaining wages and benefits. And, the Biden Administration will encourage the use of resources and materials that are sourced domestically, as well as the use of project labor agreements.
|Guarantee safe housing for our military families
The government has broken its trust with military families by providing sub-par housing. Now, we have to work twice as hard to rebuild this trust. That will require the utmost transparency and accountability from both the government and the private sector partners charged with housing the families of our service members. The Biden Administration will:
Read Biden’s full plan for military families at joebiden.com/militaryfamilies.
PURSUE A COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH TO ENDING HOMELESSNESS
- Develop a national strategy for making housing a right for all. Biden believes everyone should have the right to a safe roof over their head. On the first day of his Administration, he will direct his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to lead a task force of mayors and other local elected officials to put on his desk within 100 days a roadmap for making this right a reality nationwide. Mayors and local elected officials are on the front lines of tackling homelessness, so Biden will use their expertise to help the federal government identify best practices that should be replicated across the country.
- Provide emergency funding designed to tackle the homelessness crisis. Biden will work with Congress to secure passage of Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ Ending Homelessness Act. This bill funds a comprehensive, holistic strategy to ending homelessness, including everything from case management to emergency shelters to additional housing vouchers for homeless individuals. In total, this law will invest $13 billion to tackle homelessness over five years, including $5 billion for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants, and the law will create more than 400,000 additional housing units for homeless individuals. In addition, Biden will ensure part of this grant funding is specifically targeted to assist homeless children and young adults.
- Reform federal housing programs to ensure they take a “housing first” approach to ending homelessness. The Trump Administration has demonstrated acceptance of a worldview that housing and food should be withheld until homeless individuals tackle challenges such as addiction and mental illness. This view isn’t just inhumane, it defies the evidence regarding what works. More and more evidence is making clear that a “housing first” approach – “guided by the belief that people need basic necessities like food and a place to live before attending to anything less critical, such as getting a job, budgeting properly, or attending to substance use issues” – is an effective strategy for reducing homelessness. So, while the Biden Administration will pursue a comprehensive strategy addressing homelessness’ underlying causes – from making sure everyone has access to quality mental health and addiction support, to increasing the minimum wage and expanding workforce training, to changing the culture so more LGBTQ teenagers are accepted in their homes – President Biden will make sure our country commits to a “housing first” approach to ending homelessness. In his first 100 days, Biden will direct his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to conduct a full review of federal housing policies to make sure they pursue and incentivize the “housing first” approach. The Secretary will identify all ways in which homelessness assistance grants can further support rapid re-housing and long-term supportive housing. Supportive housing has been found to have positive long-term impacts, and rapid re-housing has been shown to lead to quick exits from homelessness.
- Reduce homelessness among veterans. The Obama-Biden Administration cut the population of homeless veterans by almost half. But with just over 23,000 veterans without shelter on any given night, we have much more work to do. Biden will work with Congress to continue to drive down veteran homelessness by permanently authorizing the Supportive Services for Veterans Families program, which provides critical funding for wrap-around services for those facing homelessness. President Biden will also work to ensure that we better understand the unique needs of women and LGBTQ veterans experiencing homelessness. And, he will create safe, modern, clean, and recovery-oriented housing for veterans being treated for substance use disorders and those who are homeless by refurbishing buildings condemned or not in use, such as the massive VA Los Angeles campus. Read Biden’s full plan to support our veterans at joebiden.com/veterans.
- Protect LGBTQ individuals. The Obama-Biden Administration enforced the civil rights of the LGBTQ community, including by ensuring federally funded homeless shelters provide housing according to an individual’s gender identity and cannot refuse services based on gender identity or sexual orientation. The Trump Administration has since proposed allowing shelters to discriminate against transgender people when determining their accommodations, for example by forcing transgender women to sleep and use the bathroom in the same place as men. As President, Biden will secure the passage of the Equality Act, ensuring that no President can ever again single-handedly roll back civil rights protections for LGBTQ individuals, including in housing and homeless shelters. And, he will increase funding for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act to ensure LGBTQ individuals have access to transitional living programs that provide essential services like job counseling and mental and physical health care.
- Expand access to supportive housing and services for individuals with disabilities and the elderly. A Biden Administration will increase the availability of supportive and accessible housing for seniors and individuals with disabilities, including through the Supportive Housing for the Elderly (“Section 202”) and Supportive Housing for Individuals with Disabilities (“Section 811”) programs. Biden also will increase resources for mental health services and substance use disorder treatment, including through the Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness program.
- Set a national goal of ensuring 100% of formerly incarcerated individuals have housing upon reentry. If incarcerated individuals do not find housing upon reentry, that lack of housing can be completely destabilizing and limit their likelihood of successfully staying out of the criminal justice system and fulfilling their potential. Biden will work toward a goal of ensuring 100% of formerly incarcerated individuals – at the federal and state level – have housing upon release. He’ll start by eliminating barriers keeping formerly incarcerated individuals from accessing public assistance, including housing support. He’ll direct the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to only contract with entities that are open to housing individuals looking for a second chance. And, he’ll expand funding for transitional housing, which has been drastically cut under the Trump Administration.
|Ensure survivors of domestic and sexual violence have safe, affordable housing
Biden has put forward a comprehensive plan to strengthen social supports for survivors of domestic and sexual violence and human trafficking, including helping victims secure housing, gain economic stability, and recover from the trauma of abuse. The U.S. Conference of Mayors has identified domestic violence as a top driver of family homelessness, and research points to domestic violence as a key cause of homelessness for many women. And, domestic violence survivors and their children often live in unstable housing conditions, such as with relatives or friends in crowded and potentially exploitative conditions or returning to abusive partners. Research demonstrates that providing flexibility in eligibility, services, and support helps survivors feel safer and rebuild their lives after violence.
The Biden plan will cut through the red tape that can slow down assistance and limit options for survivors. Specifically, Biden will:
Read Biden’s full plan to end violence against women at joebiden.com/VAWA.
Investing In Our Housing to Grow the Middle Class, Paid for by Making Sure Corporations Pay Their Fair Share
Biden’s $640 billion investment in America’s housing is paid for by raising taxes on corporations and large financial institutions. Specifically, approximately $300 billion of the housing plan is devoted to new construction and is encompassed in the $1.3 trillion infrastructure plan. The remaining portion is paid for by instituting a financial fee on certain liabilities of firms with over $50 billion in assets.