Biden’s Housing Plan Will Not Build Back Better


Facing the specter of the burst housing bubble, the Obama administration failed to rejuvenate frozen housing development. Today, the public is bearing the consequences of rising home prices and widespread homelessness.

Amid the congressional fight over the social spending bill, the House Financial Services Committee approved the largest direct housing investment since the New Deal, totaling over $150 billion. To contextualize, the Obama recovery bill included a one-time $14 billion investment into HUD programs. The proposed Biden housing plan is that, every year, for a decade.

With other Democratic priorities such as the child tax credit and universal pre-K in line, and Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema demanding cuts to the Build Back Better legislation, it is likely that housing proposals will be trimmed. What remains will likely focus almost exclusively on expanding Section 9 public housing, Section 8 rental assistance, and the Housing Trust Fund.

The plan aspires to support lower-income individuals in gaining increased access to affordable housing. It keeps affordable housing close to the chest of the federal government rather than offering alternatives such as locally focused, flexible housing voucher programs.

Conservatives have long argued against public housing, opting for more nimble, market-based alternatives that aim to move families up and out of assisted housing through economic empowerment. A Bush administration 2004 proposal would have granted local authorities an annual lump sum with incentives to serve as many families as possible, rather than a mandated set number of assisted rentals.

This system would have rewarded housing authorities who properly manage the money with increased funding for the subsequent fiscal year. For authorities who fail to hit the mark, responsibilities would have been passed to private leasing firms. So that the market will not overinflate the spread of affordable housing in one locality, these locally-based systems help to ensure local housing markets effectively meet their needs through a focus on quality over quantity.

Outside of the low-income housing market, the Biden plan does little to expand housing access for middle-income families, oversimplifying the current state of the U.S. housing crisis and overinflating support for one income bracket.

The Biden administration’s plan looks to reignite the muscles of the Federal Housing Administration and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to expand public housing at a grandiose scale. Regardless, Biden’s housing plan will not “Build Back Better” for everyone. It will maintain the status quo of countless Democratic administrations.

Jarrett J. Lash is a senior at New York University. He is a United Nations Millennium fellow. His book, Priced Out: How America’s Homes Became Too Expensive is expected to be released in fall 2022. His opinions are his own.

Author: Jarrett Lash

Source: Washington Examiner : Biden’s housing plan will not Build Back Better