The Joe Biden administration announced a new program Thursday to help reduce housing costs and increase the supply of housing in the United States to address the many challenges faced in obtaining affordable housing.
The new measures announced aim to reduce housing costs by reducing barriers to construction, expanding financing for affordable, energy-efficient and resilient housing and the promotion of commercial-to-residential conversion opportunities, particularly for affordable and zero-emission housing.
“Recent data shows that inflation in the rental markets is slowing and that more apartments will be built this year than in any other year on record. The Administration's actions are leading directly to the creation of tens of thousands of affordable housing units,” the White House reported.
This effort is being realizing with the help of the HOME program of the American Rescue Plan that will produce at least 20,000 affordable housing units and support.
In addition, the government will fund jurisdictions committed to removing barriers to affordable housing created by zoning restrictions, through an $85 million Department of Housing and Urban Development program.
And the Department of Transportation, through its “Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods” program, will provide $3.16 billion for projects that prioritize housing planning and construction projects in disadvantaged communities and increasing housing supply through zoning reforms.
Other measures announced Thursday that are designed to lower housing costs and improve housing supply include simplified financing through HUD to allow public housing authorities to use housing vouchers more easily.
HUD will also expand affordable housing repair and construction with the “Rental Assistance Demonstration” that will support repairs to thousands of existing affordable units during three years.
The White House also announced actions to protect the more than 44 million renters by ensuring they have an opportunity to address and be a party to incorrect reporting tenant screening, provide new funding for tenant organizing efforts, and ensure tenants receive fair notice prior to eviction.
The administration will also partner with the private sector to help families looking to rent a home, such as Zillow, which has agreed to launch the ability for users to search for affordable rental units that qualify for programs like Housing Choice Vouchers and affordable housing with income restrictions.
AffordableHousing.com will also implement “clear and fair” digital leases based on the White House plan for a Tenant Bill of Rights.
Last week, Zillow, Apartments.com and AffordableHousing.com announced they will provide consumers with information on the full and up-front cost of rental properties, which can be hundreds of dollars in addition to the advertised rent, the House reported. White.