President Joe Biden and Congress are negotiating once-in-a-generation legislation and funding to address the nation’s unaddressed infrastructure needs. As you well know, housing is infrastructure and therefore should be included in the infrastructure bill. Housing benefits the families who are securely housed, the communities in which it is built, and the economy through job and revenue creation.
We have drafted a sign-on letter to Congressional leaders – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, longtime advocates for housing – to encourage them to make bold change and a lasting impact in the infrastructure bill. We call on the Congress to: 1) Establish a housing safety net by providing Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers to all eligible households; 2) Preserve public housing; and 3) Expand affordable housing supply.
We are looking for organizations and New York elected officials to sign-on to the letter and support the call for housing investment in infrastructure funding. You can see the full letter below. You can add your name to the list in the fields below.
Please note: This is an ORGANIZATIONAL and ELECTED OFFICIAL sign-on letter. Elected officials will have their name and office listed. Otherwise, your organization, not your individual name, will be listed as an endorser. This letter will close on Wednesday, June 16, 2021.
Dear Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer:
As a collection of housing and homelessness experts and elected officials representing New York State, we are deeply appreciative of your efforts throughout the last year to provide emergency relief for struggling tenants and for your continued support for policies that would boost the overall supply of affordable housing in New York and beyond. To take those efforts to the next level, we urge you to capitalize on a historic opportunity to address the root of a long-standing and worsening housing crisis impacting every American – but especially those in your respective constituencies.
The current debate over a sweeping infrastructure investment package is the ideal environment to push for transformative housing policies that may have been considered impossible even just several months ago. As you well know, housing is both physical and social infrastructure, benefitting the families who are securely housed, as the communities in which it is built, and the economy through job and revenue creation. We write to encourage you to make bold change and a lasting impact by: 1) Establishing a housing safety net by providing Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers to all eligible households; 2) Preserving public housing; and 3) Expanding affordable housing supply.
Establish a Housing Safety Net
COVID-19 created a dual public health and economic crisis that exacerbated the already staggering housing needs of New Yorkers. In New York, over 90,000 people experience homeless and over 143,000 public school children live in unstable housing. Almost 2.7 million New Yorkers live in poverty and almost 1 million low-income households pay more than half their income on rent, but current federal rental assistance programs do not reach many in need: 75 percent of eligible households do not receive any assistance. By expanding the rental assistance program to include all eligible households, you would immediately reduce the nation’s poverty rate by 25 percent – a historic achievement that would materially benefit millions of lives.
With President Biden promising this change on the campaign trail, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to establish a real housing safety net for families and individuals across the country. As such, we urge you to fight for Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers to be moved to the mandatory side of the budget and fully funded to serve all eligible households.
Preserve Public Housing
Public housing is a vital part of our nation’s infrastructure. More than 400,000 individuals live in public housing in New York alone, with the overwhelming majority served by the largest housing authority in the county, New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). Unfortunately, NYCHA alone has an immediate capital need of $40 billion as a result of decades of federal neglect. Until that gap is closed, hundreds of thousands of residents will continue to experience substandard living conditions that threaten their physical and economic well-being. In order to address the public housing crisis, the final infrastructure package should include at least $80 billion in capital for public housing needs.
Expand Affordable Housing Supply
New York, like the rest of the country, has a severe shortage of affordable housing that lies at the root of the housing crisis: the state is almost 650,000 units short for very low- and extremely low-income renters. Existingbarriers to expanding supply make it more difficult to close this gap, even after recent changes to the 4 percent Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program. While the LIHTC has been an effective tool and economic driver,serving over 500,000 low-income households, supporting 350,000 jobs annually and generating billions in wages and revenue in New York alone, more can be done to improve its efficiency
We are calling for provisions to strengthen and expand LIHTC including a 50 percent increase to housing credit allocations and a lowering of the 50 percent threshold of private activity bond financing required for the 4 percent housing credit. HUD-assisted housing should to be exempt from counting towards a state’s bond volume cap, which would significantly increase private investment in federally- assisted housing and ensure preservation for the next generation. Further, we are calling for an expansion of the National Housing Trust Fund (HTF) to $45 billion annually — $26 billion of which would be dedicated to supportive housing for those experiencing homelessness and have the greatest barriers to achieving housing stability. This would ensure deep affordability for the lowest income households where the need is most urgent. Combined with establishing a housing safety net, expanding affordable housing supply would allow New York to transform homelessness from an ever growing crisis to something that is rare, brief, and non-recurring.
As we move from crisis to recovery, now is the time to invest in affordable housing. With historically low interest rates, federal funding will leverage significant private investment. It will also provide an opportunity to take advantage of a changing real estate market. With distressed commercial real estate including hotels and underutilized offices, federal resources can help facilitate affordable housing conversions at scale.
We are grateful to have a Congress that understands the importance of affordable housing. As leaders of the House and Senate, it is in your power to take action and ensure this historic investment has the greatest impact. Together, the following organizations and elected officials call on you to act with urgency to include critical funding for affordable housing that serves all those who need it. We would welcome a meeting with you or your respective staffs to go over any of these issues in more detail, and we look forward to building a more affordable country alongside you.
The following organizations, mayoral candidates and elected officials have signed on to the letter:
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards
NYS Assembly Member Steven Cymbrowitz
NY City Council Member Robert Cornegy, Housing and Buildings Committee Chair
NY City Council Member Rafael Salamanca, Land Use Committee Chair
NY City Council Member Mark Levine, Health Committee Chair
NY City Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Subcommittee on Capital Budget Chair
NY City Council Member Margaret Chin, Aging Committee Chair
NY City Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Immigration Committee Chair
NY City Council Member Karen Koslowitz
NY City Council Member Brad Lander
NY City Council Member Bill Perkins
NY City Council Member Carlina Rivera
New York Housing Conference
A. Larovere Consulting and Development
The Arker Companies
Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD)
Bowery Residents’ Committee (BRC)
Catholic Charities POP Development
Center for Urban Community Services
Citizens Committee for Children
Citizens Housing and Planning Council
Coalition for the Homeless
Coalition for Homeless Youth
Community League of the Heights Inc. (CLOTH)
Community Preservation Corporation (CPC)
Community Service Society of New York
Concern for Independent Living
Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation
Designing the We
Enterprise Community Partners
Fifth Avenue Committee
The Fortune Society
Geto & de Milly, Inc.
The Health & Housing Consortium
Homeless Services United
Hope Community, Inc.
Housing Rights Initiative
The Hudson Companies
Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing
The Legal Aid Society
LISC NYS Housing Stabilization Fund
Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF)
MBD Community Housing Corp.
Met Council on Housing
MHANY Management Inc.
Neighborhood Restore HDFC
Neighbors Helping Neighbors
New Destiny Housing
Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition
NYC Housing Partnership
NYS Rural Advocates
New York State Council of Churches
Omni New York LLC
Open Hearts Initiative
The Osborne Association
Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY)
Regional Plan Association (RPA)
RiseBoro Community Partnership
Robin Hood Foundation
The Samuels Group
Selfhelp Realty Group (SRG) – The Melamid Institute for Affordable Housing
Settlement Housing Fund, Inc.
Sisters of Charity Housing Development Corporation
Southisde United HDFC – Los Sures
St. Nicks Alliance
Supportive Housing Network of New York
Tenants Political Action Committee
Two Trees Management
United Neighborhood Houses