Pa. Congressmen Announce $63 Billion ‘Housing Is Essential’ Plan

March 31, 2021
Press Release
With Biden’s infrastructure plan in mind, they list priorities to 'Build Back Better' in housing

PHILADELPHIA (March 31, 2021) – Congressman Dwight Evans (D-PA-3rd) on Tuesday announced his Housing Is Essential plan for more than $63 billion in new federal affordable housing funding. He was joined by western Pennsylvania Congressman Mike Doyle (D-PA-18th) and housing advocates from across the state who support the plan.

Evans said, “Accessible, affordable housing is key to building and maintaining livable communities. I want to be clear - my congressional district, my home state, and much of the nation were experiencing a housing crisis before any of us had heard of the coronavirus. Significant investment in our nation’s housing infrastructure has been needed for years. Economic fallout from the pandemic has only underscored the urgency for such bold action.

“Pennsylvania and the nation gave President Biden and Democrats in Congress a mandate for action, and we intend to act. I think many of the ideas in this Housing Is Essential plan are things Republicans across the country can support – housing affordability and access are major issues in many suburban and rural areas, not only in cities. I think this plan also has much in common with the American Jobs Plan that President Biden released today, and I look forward to working together to ‘Build Back Better!’” Evans said.

Doyle said, “The Housing is Essential Plan is a comprehensive plan to deal with affordability and counseling services. The programs laid out in the proposal will ensure that all families can find affordable housing in their communities.”

Speakers in Tuesday’s news conference included Michael Warren of Pittsburgh, who benefited from affordable housing.

Doyle added, “Our budget is a statement of our priorities, and I believe that for far too long we have seen flat funding for these programs. Hearing Michael’s story today shows us what’s possible when we invest in people and remove barriers. I am proud to partner with Rep. Evans on this initiative, and I applaud his leadership on this issue.”

With the support of Congressman Matt Cartwright (D-PA-8th) from northeastern Pennsylvania, the Housing Is Essential plan has the backing of members from three of the state’s regions. Cartwright serves on the House Appropriations Committee and in the House leadership as a co-chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.

Cartwright said, “As our nation continues to build back from this pandemic, it is vital that we address the housing needs that COVID-19 has shone a light on. This plan will make affordable housing lifelines more accessible to all of our fellow citizens, in particular for countless seniors in the Eighth District and across our Commonwealth. I’m proud to join Representative Evans in affirming that Housing Is Essential.”

Evans said some highlights of the plan include:

• $15 billion for Project-Based Rental Assistance & $30 billion for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance

• $5 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants and $500 million for Emergency Solutions Grants

• $3 billion for HOME Investment Partnerships

• $5 billion for Community Development Block Grants

• $1.5 billion for Housing for the Elderly (Section 202) & $400 million for Housing for Persons with Disabilities (Section 811)

• $500 million for Choice Neighborhoods, a program which is providing $30 million in federal funding to leverage $225 million in investment to revitalize the Sharswood-Blumberg neighborhood in Philadelphia

• $200 million for Family Self-Sufficiency, $100 million for Resident Opportunity and Self-Sufficiency, and $50 million for the Jobs Plus Initiative

• $55 million for the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program

$250 million for Housing Counseling and expanding the program to cover financial literacy

• Expanding credits for Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) projects serving extremely low-income and homeless individuals, and temporarily lowering the “50 percent test” to 25 percent – this could finance about 10,000 additional affordable homes across Pennsylvania

• Reinstating the 2013 Disparate Impact standards in place of the 2020 final rule

• Reinstating the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule in place of the 2020 final rule

• Withdrawing the proposed Mixed Status rule ending rental assistance for certain immigrant families

• Withdrawing the proposed rule weakening Equal Access protections in homeless shelters

• Creating a new federal program to provide grants directly to homeowners to make repairs on their homes

The full plan (6 pages) is available by clicking here

Leaders and organizations endorsing the plan include:

ACTION-Housing, Pittsburgh; Affordable Housing Centers of Pennsylvania; Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM); Compass Working Capital; Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia; Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania; Neighborhood Allies; Pennsylvania Developers’ Council; Philadelphia Housing Authority; Project HOME; Rebuilding Together Philadelphia; Regional Housing Legal Services; Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto; Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh; and the Allegheny County Housing Authority and its Executive Director Frank Aggazio.

Evans represents Pennsylvania’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes Northwest and West Philadelphia and parts of North, South, Southwest and Center City Philadelphia. Doyle represents the 18th Congressional District, which includes the city of Pittsburgh and much of southern and eastern Allegheny County. Cartwright represents the 8th Congressional District in northeastern Pennsylvania, which includes Lackawanna, Pike and Wayne counties and much of Luzerne and Monroe counties.