How the Biden Administration Will Work Through Affordable Housing Challenges

As President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take the oath of office on January 20, 2021, he is facing a multitude of issues. The most obvious is the COVID-19 pandemic and its fallout. The economic ramifications of the pandemic are far-reaching. Every American household has been affected. Even before the crisis hit, the lack of affordable housing was a serious problem in many areas of the United States.

Three National Problems Lead to of Lack of Affordable Housing

There have been three nationwide problems this year that have affected the affordability of housing and access to housing. The first and foremost of these is the COVID-19 pandemic. The impacts of climate change, including the devastating wildfires, tropical storms and hurricanes and flooding have also played a role. The racial justice movement has also impacted affordable housing in urban areas of the United States.

The Pandemic Caused Devastation on the Affordability of Housing

Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies wrote a report called the 2020 State of the Nation's Housing. It identified the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic as the biggest factor in the lack of affordable housing. Greg Brown, who is the Senior Vice President of Government Affairs at the National Apartment Association, said that he is optimistic about finding common ground with the Biden/Harris administration. He expects they will be willing to work with the industry on rental assistance and mortgage relief for homeowners.

What the Industry Has to Say

The housing industry has a lot to say about the lack of affordability. In Brown's opinion, some of the barriers stopping new housing construction have gone away because of efforts of the Trump/Pence administration. In urban areas, those efforts began under the Obama/Biden administration. Brown is also looking forward to Biden addressing the imbalance between the demand for housing and the supply of housing units.

Current Legislation

Congress, state legislatures and city councils are stepping up to the plate. They have poured millions of dollars into programs for rental assistance. These programs aim to help citizens who are laid off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The monies are to help them with their unpaid rent. As of November, most of those programs have ended. The national eviction moratorium enacted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will go through at least December 31. It stops landlords from evicting tenants who are behind on their rent.

What Americans Need Now

Brown says that all Americans need and deserve COVID-19 relief now. Congress needs to take action. A rental assistance program should be part of it. The delay of a second stimulus package isn't helping anybody. Many business owners are carrying debt and owe money on payroll or utilities. Individuals are also getting behind on their expenses.

Looking to the Future

If the current Congress won't do anything, Brown hopes the new one that gets sworn in on January 3, 2021 will. Brown's association looks forward to working with the new Congress on rental relief services. Industry analysts expect Biden to take a similar approach as Obama. He thinks that Biden and Harris will hold Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac accountable for moving forward with affordable housing goals. The chief economist of went so far as to say that Biden has an ambitious agenda, and she's looking forward to the help low- and middle-income Americans should receive next year.

Predictions for 2021

Brown believes that the Biden/Harris administration will have a lot of incentives for cities and states to pull back regulations on new construction. That's important for creating more affordable housing units. The United States needs to add about 300,000 units per year if it is going to meet the current demand. The United States hasn't added that many housing units in a year since 1999. Brown also hopes there will be more short-term rental assistance. Unemployment benefit extensions are also running out. For many people, these assistance programs are the only things keeping a roof over their heads.

Agency Leaders Will Also Play a Role

Whoever leads Housing and Urban Development under the Biden/Harris administration will play a key role. So will the director of the CDC. Their actions will directly impact renters and rental housing owners. The USA may also need another extension on the moratorium for evictions until a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available to the general public.

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