Senior Director of Economic Policy
As federal policymakers consider investments to address the nation’s pressing infrastructure needs, a core priority should be to direct substantial resources to low-income communities, our new report shows. Decades of policy choices and insufficient public and private investment have made the infrastructure needs of these communities acute, especially in many communities of color where past policy choices affected by racism, combined with continuing racial bias and discrimination, have resulted in a lack of needed economic resources. New investments could expand low-income communities’ access to safe living conditions and economic opportunity, and include:
In addition, any financing and investment mechanisms for an infrastructure package should protect low-income households and be designed so that the overall package benefits communities most in need. While some policymakers may be drawn to certain public-private financing mechanisms such as tax credits or loan subsidies, those approaches tend to be less cost effective than borrowing at the relatively low interest rates available to the federal government, especially for the types of projects with the highest promise of delivering substantial benefits to low-income communities. They also risk giving windfalls to private investors for projects that would have happened anyway or prioritizing projects with commercial returns over those that deliver public benefits, and in many cases would likely bypass communities most in need.