Civil Rights, Fair Housing And Consumer Groups Urge Congress to Advance Housing Investment and Equity in Historic Human Infrastructure Bill

Today, national civil rights, housing policy, and consumer protection groups released a letter sent to Congressional leadership and committee chairs calling for inclusion of housing policies that would advance racial and economic equity in the upcoming human infrastructure reconciliation legislation. The letter, linked here, was signed by the Center for Responsible Lending, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders, National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development, National Community Reinvestment Coalition, National Fair Housing Alliance, NAACP, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc and The National Urban League. 

The groups state, in part:

“[W]e write to urge your continued prioritization of the housing-related provisions in the upcoming reconciliation package. These provisions are a down payment on this Administration’s commitment to addressing long-standing inequities in our housing system and addressing the worsening racial wealth gap exacerbated by the nation’s housing crisis…. 

“For us, housing is not only infrastructure but also is a foundation for basic civil rights. Communities of color, women, and others facing systemic barriers have borne the brunt of carrying our nation toward economic recovery for far too long. However, these groups have not benefited from public investments – leading to continued growth in housing insecurity and a growing wealth gap….

“In this moment, we must put measures in place that will expand the availability and improve the quality of rental units and create opportunities for sustainable homeownership through upgrading and building housing that is accessible to all Americans. Both are critical to ensuring a successful and equitable recovery for everyone….

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address systemic inequality fueled by previous exclusionary federal housing policies.”

The letter outlines specific policies for:

  • Ensuring that each housing provision is implemented in a manner that affirmatively furthers fair housing and community opportunity in accordance with existing civil rights laws, including Title VI, Title VIII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Community Reinvestment Act;
  • Homeownership, including $100 billion in targeted, equity-focused down payment assistance for first-generation homebuyers and support for housing construction and rehabilitation;
  • Reducing rent burdens and restoring dignity to public housing residents, including through:
    • expansion of the Housing Choice Voucher Program; 
    • expanded funding for other critical subsidized housing programs, including the Housing Trust Fund, the Capital Magnet Fund, project-based rental assistance and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and ensure stronger fair housing standards for these programs, so that they do not further entrench residential segregation but instead support neighborhoods of opportunity;
    • providing capital funding and renovation resources for public housing; and,
    • funding expanded services (such as counseling) for subsidized households by housing authorities and other entities.
  • Cross-cutting improvements for more economically diverse communities; and,
  • Securing resources for fair housing and fair lending enforcement.

Click here to read the full text of the letter.

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