Investing in America’s Housing as Infrastructure
It was an honor to testify today! We are just beginning to work our way out of a pandemic in which 22.2 million people lost their jobs and their livelihoods. Low-income people and communities of color were the hardest hit. Therefore, equitable recovery must focus on the needs of the people: good paying jobs to sustain their families, homes they can afford, infrastructure that is resilient, and a fair shot at upward mobility. Moving America forward, together.
I underscored the need to invest in America’s housing infrastructure during my testimony today at the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services hearing, “Build Back Better: Investing in Equitable and Affordable Housing Infrastructure.”
I am a proud Los Angeles native, and this work is deeply personal to me. My parents took part in the Great Migration – moving from rural Texas to California in pursuit of the American Dream.
Growing up, I was bused 45 minutes from our home in South Los Angeles to school in the mostly white area of Pacific Palisades. Every day, I was exposed to two communities divided by race, wealth and opportunity, but also by housing quality, property values and private investment.
Today, these divisions remain, and the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the housing challenges we were already facing. I applaud Congress for making rental relief available and protecting people on the brink of homelessness. I commend the Committee on Financial Services for recognizing the role housing can and must continue to play in scaling up solutions to address the affordable housing needs across the nation. We must take this opportunity to make a historic investment in the future of American workers, families, neighborhoods and communities.
A major infrastructure package must create jobs. There are shovel-ready projects in every county that could immediately bring construction jobs to people who are ready to work and create affordable homes over the long term.
Every investment of public resources should also support our communities in protecting against the impacts of our changing climate, including forward-looking building practices such as integrating solar energy and prioritizing the reduction of carbon emissions. In the past year, disasters across the U.S. caused nearly $95 billion in damage, and their effects are felt most by low-income communities. Investing in resilient infrastructure, including housing, saves lives, reduces disaster recovery costs, enables continuity, creates jobs, and addresses social inequities.
Through this infrastructure package, we can take steps to maintain America’s existing housing supply as a long-term asset to our country. That is why I recommend that the Committee include critical housing programs such as the HOME Investment Partnerships program, CDBG, the Public Housing Capital Fund and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit in this bill, as well as the Section 4 program, which supports community development corporations.
This infrastructure package could be the largest investment in affordable housing for decades, so let’s prioritize the good that can come with it: jobs, livelihoods, homes that are more resilient to our new climate reality, and the chance to advance racial equity and upward mobility. Let’s prioritize hope for all!
Watch Jacqueline’s recorded testimony and the full hearing below.