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Klobuchar, Kaine Introduce Legislation to Address Nationwide Housing Shortage

The Housing Supply and Affordability Act will create a competitive grant program to increase housing supply and affordability

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) reintroduced the Housing Supply and Affordability Act to create a new grant program that would provide funding to help localities develop and implement comprehensive housing policy plans. This program will provide technical assistance to help states, localities, and regional coalitions increase housing supply, improve housing affordability, and reduce barriers to new housing development while avoiding the displacement of current residents. Companion legislation in the House of Representatives is led by Representatives Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Joyce Beatty (D-OH).

“Access to stable, quality housing is key to expanding economic opportunities for families but right now, the housing market is inaccessible for far too many,” said Klobuchar. “This legislation will give state and local governments critical resources to improve affordability and expand access to quality housing where it’s needed the most.”

“Everywhere I go in Virginia, I hear about how difficult it is to find affordable housing,” said Kaine. “But the housing needs in one part of the country aren’t necessarily the same as another. That’s why this legislation would enable localities to engage with their residents to identify the strategy to boost housing supply that works for their community. As a former fair housing attorney, I’ve seen the difference a reliable, safe roof overhead can make for a family, and I urge my colleagues to join us in working to make affordable housing more accessible for all.”

Between 2001 and 2018, median rent increased by 13%, while wages increased only 0.5%. Now, the average American needs to earn $19.56 per hour for a modest one-bedroom rental home and $23.96 per hour for a modest two-bedroom rental home. Prior to the pandemic, more than 7.7 million extremely low-income renters were spending more than half of their incomes on housing expenses. Not only is affordable housing inaccessible for many Americans, there is a general shortage of houses. From 2000 to 2015, the United States fell 7.3 million homes short of meeting housing demand. 

The Housing Supply and Affordability Act:

  1. Creates a $300 million competitive grant program each year over 5 years available to state and local governments that demonstrate rising housing costs or projected rising housing costs to develop a housing plan that would increase housing supply in an area while avoiding the displacement of residents in the area;
  2. Ensures that at least 10% of funds are awarded to rural areas;
  3. Prioritizes grants by housing plans that would increase affordable housing access for individuals of every race and income level, reduce barriers to affordable housing development; and avoid the displacement of residents;
  4. Requires the HUD Secretary to issue guidance with recommended policies, strategies, and reforms to encourage repurposing land for housing development, allow for a greater variety of housing types, revise land use policies to allow for the development of more housing, streamline the approval process for housing development, provide financial incentives to support affordable housing development, and support inclusive engagement of community members; and
  5. Requires routine reporting from applicants regarding the use of these grant funds. 

Kaine, a former fair housing attorney, has long supported efforts to expand access to affordable housing. He introduced legislation to help first-time, first-generation homebuyers through more friendly mortgage rates. Kaine also introduced bicameral legislation with Klobuchar to protect low-income families and veterans from housing discrimination by banning discrimination based on source of income.