Marchant, Cisneros Co-Lead Bill to Preserve Affordable Housing, Support Job Creation

OCTOBER 6, 2020, Cambridge, MA- Today, Congresswoman Katherine Clark, Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, introduced the bipartisan Support Allowing Volume Exception for (SAVE) Federally-Assisted Housing Act, a targeted effort to address the national shortage of affordable housing units by freeing up the availability of private activity bonds used to support the preservation, improvement, or replacement of federally-assisted housing facilities. Clark announced the legislation at a press conference outside of the Cambridge Housing Authority development in John Corcoran Park alongside Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, Michael Johnston, the Executive Director of the Cambridge Housing Authority, and other elected leaders. In Cambridge alone, the legislation would help save 526 existing affordable housing units that are currently at risk of being closed down, build up to 444 new units, support $450 million in construction improvements, spurring job creation and economic activity in the city, and house 970 additional families.

“As our country continues to reel from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and millions struggle to pay rent, it is imperative that we preserve and invest in our nation’s affordable housing stock,” said Congresswoman Clark. “With this bill, we are providing more affordable housing options to families, low-income households, seniors, people with special needs, and veterans while infusing local economies with job opportunities as these bonds help us to preserve and improve our housing units. This bill is a win for everyone.”

Congresswoman Clark introduced the bill with two colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Kenny Marchant (R-TX-24) and Congressman Gil Cisneros (D-CA-39).

“The Dallas-Fort Worth area is one of the fastest growing regions of the state, making the availability of affordable housing more important than ever,” said Congressman Marchant. “Unfortunately, caps on the amount of bonds that states may issue handicap their ability to keep up with the demand for these units. This bill presents a bipartisan, commonsense solution by providing an exception for private activity bonds that fund the rehabilitation of existing housing. Such an approach invests in the local businesses who work on these projects while also ensuring that more families can call our community ‘home.’”

"This pandemic has worsened the affordable housing crisis in California and across the country. Now more than ever, Congress needs to take steps to address this glaring issue," said Congressman Cisneros. "I'm proud to join Reps. Clark and Marchant to introduce this bipartisan bill to expand and improve access to affordable housing, while creating jobs and promoting economic activity. We need to continue to reduce barriers in building and maintaining affordable housing for families nationwide."

Decades of underinvestment and deferred maintenance in federally-assisted housing has led to a massive capital-needs deficit. Our nation’s public housing stock has approximately $70 billion in critical preservation and recapitalization needs that can no longer be deferred. The failure to adequately address these needs results in the loss of approximately 10,000 public housing units annually.

Private activity bonds are an integral part of addressing the rehabilitation of existing affordable housing units and the production of new housing units. However, due to bond volume caps or “state ceilings,” the maximum amount of private activity bonds that individual states may issue each year is insufficient to address the growing need. The SAVE Federally-Assisted Housing Act will address this issue by providing an exception from the volume cap requirement for private activity bonds, thereby creating additional resources to preserve and renovate affordable housing units. This will not only lead to more housing for more families, but the construction and development process for these facilities will result in job growth and economic activity where the units are located.

The bill has been endorsed by the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities, the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials, the Public Housing Authority Directors Association, the Moving to Work Collaborative and the National Housing Trust.

Bill text is available online here.  

Watch press conference here.