American Jobs Plan Encompasses Affordable Housing Infrastructure
On March 31, the White House released an outline of a $2 trillion plan to rebuild U.S. infrastructure, with a focus on stimulating the long-term recovery of the American economy, combating climate change, and addressing persistent racial injustice. The framework, called the American Jobs Plan, calls for boosting federal investment in a range of infrastructure systems, including housing, transportation, schools, broadband, electric grid, and drinking water systems.
The fact sheet released by the White House states there is a “severe shortage of affordable housing options in America,” and the plan allocates $213 billion for investments in the housing infrastructure to produce, preserve, and retrofit more than two million affordable and sustainable homes. The plan also seeks to build resilience in vulnerable areas by investing in drinking water and digital infrastructures. The plan points out that, “Too many American families drink polluted water, lack access to affordable, high-speed Internet, or experience power outages too often–all while paying more for those services.”
Affordable Housing Actions
President Biden is calling on Congress to undertake the following actions related to affordable housing and low-income residents:
Produce, preserve, and retrofit more than a million affordable, resilient, accessible, energy-efficient, and electrified housing units. The plan seeks to extend affordable housing rental opportunities to underserved communities nationwide, including rural and tribal areas, through targeted tax credits, formula funding, grants, and project-based rental assistance.
Eliminate exclusionary zoning and harmful land use policies. Biden’s plan attempts to boost the supply of affordable housing by calling on Congress to enact a competitive grant program that awards funding to jurisdictions that take concrete steps to eliminate zoning barriers to producing affordable housing. The plan cites minimum lot sizes, mandatory parking requirements, and prohibitions on multifamily housing as examples of exclusionary zoning laws that have inflated housing and constructions costs and have locked families out of areas with more opportunities.
Address longstanding public housing capital needs. President Biden is calling on Congress to invest $40 billion to improve the infrastructure of the public housing system in America. This funding will address critical life-safety concerns, mitigate imminent hazards to residents, and undertake energy efficiency measures that will significantly reduce ongoing operating expenses. According to the White House plan, these improvements will disproportionately benefit women, people of color, and people with disabilities.
Put workers back to work upgrading homes and businesses. President Biden’s plan will upgrade homes through block grant programs, the Weatherization Assistance Program, and by extending and expanding home and commercial efficiency tax credits. The plan will also establish a $27 billion Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator to mobilize private investment into distributed energy resources; retrofits of residential, commercial and municipal buildings; and clean transportation. These investments have a particular focus on disadvantaged communities that haven’t yet benefited from clean energy investments.
Build high-speed broadband infrastructure to reach 100 percent coverage. The President’s plan prioritizes building “future proof” broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas to reach 100 percent high-speed broadband coverage. It also prioritizes support for broadband networks owned, operated by, or affiliated with local governments, non-profits, and co-operatives—providers with less pressure to turn profits and with a commitment to serving entire communities. Moreover, it ensures funds are set aside for infrastructure on tribal lands and that tribal nations are consulted in program administration.
The plan also pledges to work with Congress to find a solution to reduce Internet prices for all Americans, increase adoption in both rural and urban areas, hold providers accountable, and save taxpayer money.
Eliminate all lead pipes and service lines in drinking water systems. According to the CDC, there’s no safe level of lead exposure for children. To eliminate all lead pipes and service lines in the country, President Biden is calling on Congress to invest $45 billion in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and in Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN) grants. In addition to reducing lead exposure in homes, this investment also will reduce lead exposure in 400,000 schools and childcare facilities.
Safeguard critical infrastructure and services. The plan highlights the fact that people of color and low-income people are more likely to live in areas most vulnerable to flooding and other climate change-related weather events. They also are less likely to have the funds to prepare for and recover from extreme weather events.
President Biden’s plan increases resilience in the most essential services, including the electric grid; food systems; urban infrastructure; community health and hospitals; and our roads, rail, and other transportation assets.
The plan also targets investments to support infrastructure in those communities most vulnerable physically and financially to climate-driven disasters and to build back above existing codes and standards. The plan seeks to invest in vulnerable communities through a range of programs, including FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities program, HUD’s Community Development Block Grant program, new initiatives at the Department of Transportation, a bipartisan tax credit to provide incentives to low- and middle-income families and to small businesses to invest in disaster resilience, and transition and relocation assistance to support community-led transitions for the most vulnerable tribal communities.