Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer
J. Scott Applewhite/AP
There are few homes to buy and rents are soaring, compounding a crisis drawing little attention in Congress.
Senate Democrats abandoned affordable housing spending earlier this year.
It seems unlikely that Congress will step in anytime soon to provide housing relief for Americans.
Last year, Americans could buy a house or rent relatively cheaply due to rock-bottom interest rates and pandemic-era deals meant to fill empty apartments. But that was only a brief reprieve from a housing market crisis brewing in the US for decades.
Soaring housing and rent prices made up a large portion of the increases in the latest inflation report released on Tuesday. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that housing costs increased 0.7% in August after rising 0.5% the month prior. Americans are now paying 6.2% more for shelter than they did just one year ago.
Meanwhile, interest rate hikes have pushed mortgage rates to levels not seen since the housing crash of 2008 — and more hikes could be around the corner.
While Biden and Democrats have landed recent wins on student debt forgiveness, climate, and healthcare, Congress isn’t likely to provide relief on housing anytime soon. A growing to-do list has forced lawmakers to neglect housing affordability as a top issue.
Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, chair of the Senate panel with jurisdiction on housing issues, lamented the Senate abandoning $170 billion in affordable housing funds contained in last year’s House-approved Build Back Better plan, saying to Insider it would have “fundamentally changed” people’s lives if Democrats sent it to President Joe Biden’s desk. Senate Democrats ultimately approved the far smaller Inflation Reduction Act last month.
“Nobody’s doing enough on housing, period,” Brown said. “And we’ve got to really scale that up.”
The federal government isn’t coming to the rescue
Despite calls to action, Congress has been absent from the conversation while the White House has tried pushing states and cities to overhaul their zoning laws using funding from last year’s infrastructure law. The executive branch has little power to directly solve the housing crisis, meaning it’ll be mostly up to Congress if they decide to tackle it.
“We already know that the appetite is there to expand subsidies and benefits for low-income households because all that money was included in the Build Back Better Act,” Paul Williams, the executive director of the Center for Public Enterprise, told Insider.
Within that plan, …read more
Source:: Business Insider