While the President’s speech today on federal housing policy will emphasize homeownership, we’re pleased that his agenda acknowledges the importance of rental housing policy, too. Two points we’ve made on this issue thus bear repeating.
First, federal housing policy is out of balance in at least two respects:
These inequities point to the need to rebalance federal housing policy and strengthen support for renters — particularly renters with very low incomes, a large and growing share of whom struggle to afford stable housing. (See our proposal for a renters’ tax credit to enable more poor families to afford housing.)
Second, the competing House and Senate bills to fund the Department of Housing and Urban Development next year would have very different consequences for rental assistance programs, as well as other important housing programs.
The House bill, for example, would lock in the elimination of rental assistance for 100,000 low-income families that sequestration will cause this year. The bipartisan Senate bill, which the President today will call on Congress to pass, would restore most of that assistance. The Senate bill would also restore funding to prevent homelessness and help homeless families move out of emergency shelters and into permanent housing.
How Congress resolves the differences between the House and Senate bills will make a big difference to low-income families needing housing assistance.