Politics

Sen. Kamala Harris and Rep. Maxine Waters propose bill to invest $100 billion in affordable housing

Key Points
  • Sen. Kamala Harris and Rep. Maxine Waters introduce a bill to invest more than $100 billion in affordable housing.
  • The measure, called the Housing is Infrastructure Act, targets issues such as limited affordable rental units and aging public housing.
  • Among the bill's key proposals is a $70 billion investment into public housing and a $10 billion investment that pushes to eliminate zoning requirements.
Rep. Maxine Waters and Sen. Kamala Harris
Getty Images; Reuters

Sen. Kamala Harris and Rep. Maxine Waters introduced a bill Thursday to invest more than $100 billion in affordable housing.

The measure, called the Housing is Infrastructure Act, aims to target issues such as limited affordable rental units and aging public housing. The California Democrats' legislation calls for a series of infrastructure investments to improve affordable housing options.

Here are the key points of the bill, which would invest $107 billion total:

  • It would put $70 billion toward the Public Housing Capital Fund to build and renovate public housing.
  • The measure would inject $10 billion into the Community Development Block Grant, specifically intended to be spent in part on eliminating zoning requirements and "other requirements that limit affordable housing development," according to the text of the bill.
  • It would allocate $6 billion for housing specifically for elderly people, people with disabilities, or Native Americans.

The bill also aims to fund the construction of rental units for low-income households. In announcing the bill, the lawmakers pointed to a 2018 report that found the United States is short more than 7.2 million rental homes that are affordable to people who are living at or below the poverty line.

"Too many Americans are fighting tooth and nail to keep a roof over their heads as our nation continues to face a housing affordability and homelessness crisis," Harris said in a statement announcing the bill.

Harris co-signs the proposal as she looks to gain ground in a jammed 2020 Democratic presidential primary field. The senator has pitched herself as a candidate focused on the economic issues that worry working Americans.

Waters, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, has frequently targeted Trump as a president whose administration backs businesses instead of low-income consumers and renters.

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Democratic presidential candidates on affordable housing

Harris has separately introduced legislation to make a refundable tax credit for people who put more than 30% of their annual gross income toward rent. She and Waters also put forward a bill to bolster federal housing programs with $13 billion in funding.

Other contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination have outlined plans to make housing more affordable as they cast themselves as better for the working class than President Donald Trump. Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, among others, have also pushed to increase supply of affordable housing.

Candidates such as Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Castro have floated tax credits for renters.

Warren, Booker and billionaire activist Tom Steyer all touted their plans to reduce rent costs during Wednesday night's Democratic debate in Atlanta.