Category Archives: Housing

White House Announces Additional Actions to Help Families Afford Energy Bills, Building on Historic Investments

On National Energy Assistance Day, White House Coordinates Outreach and Encourages Families to Enroll in Assistance Programs

The White House is joining states, localities, advocacy groups, and utilities in encouraging American families to apply for programs that can help hard-pressed families address home energy costs. Households in need of help with their energy bills can identify resources in their area at EnergyHelp.us or call the National Energy Assistance Referral hotline at 1-866-674-6327. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The White House is joining states, localities, advocacy groups, and utilities in encouraging American families to apply for programs that can help hard-pressed families address home energy costs. These resources include the record funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provided by the Biden-Harris Administration this year and funds to reduce home energy costs in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. In addition to outreach efforts across the Administration, the White House also announced information encouraging states to use all available American Rescue Plan resources for energy assistance and funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to reduce home energy costs.

  • Funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Are Building on the American Rescue Plan’s Investment That More Than Doubled LIHEAP Funding: The Biden-Harris Administration has delivered nearly $8 billion in LIHEAP funding nationally, more than doubling typical annual appropriations—thanks to an additional $4.5 billion provided by President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. Earlier this month, the White House announced state-by-state breakdown of this funding (see below for total awards to date by state/territory). Last week, the Administration also distributed the first $100 million installment of a five-year, $500 million investment in LIHEAP provided by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. These funds represent the largest investment in a single year since the program was established in 1981. These resources are already allowing states across the country to provide more home energy relief to low income Americans than ever before.
  • The American Rescue Plan Provided Additional Historic Resources for Utility Relief Including the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program and State & Local Fiscal Recovery Fund: The American Rescue Plan provided other critical resources that states and localities can use to address home energy costs. ERA programs, which received an additional $21.5 billion in funding from the American Rescue Plan, can provide help with past-due utility bills or ongoing assistance with energy costs to help distressed renters avoid shut-offs and keep current on expenses. State & Local Fiscal Recovery Funds can also be deployed to help deliver energy relief to families.
  • The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Made Historic Investments to Reduce Home Energy Costs: The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invested a historic $3.5 billion in the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program, reducing energy costs for hundreds of thousands of low-income households by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes.

 The Administration is announcing the following:

  • Outreach in Support of National Energy Assistance Day: Today, the Department of Health and Human Services released a radio announcement in English and Spanish and a video to encourage families to apply for LIHEAP. The radio announcement will air over 2,000 times and reach an estimated 36 million listeners. Yesterday, the Department also released a Dear Colleague Letter to LIHEAP Administrators encouraging their participation in National Energy Assistance Day. Other agencies across the Administration are also celebrating National Energy Awareness Day by disseminating information about assistance programs, including LIHEAP and ERA. The White House also coordinated outreach to state and local elected officials as well as other stakeholders.
  • Information on Using the Pandemic Emergency Assistance Fund for Utility Assistance: The American Rescue Plan created a $1 billion fund for states, territories and tribes that is available to provide cash or targeted assistance to needy families. Today, the Department of Health and Human Services released a brief on how to use these funds to respond to winter utility needs.
  • Significant Support Distributed Through American Rescue Plan Housing Programs: As of the end of 2021, well over $25 billion of funds have been obligated to assist households across the country through the ERA program, which provides both rental and utility assistance to households in need. Treasury continues to promote best practices such as avoiding shut-offs for eligible households and allowing self-attestation to document substantial increases in home heating or other utility costs to support eligibility. Treasury is also working with states and Tribes to distribute $9.8 billion in funding for the Homeowners Assistance Fund, with a majority of approved plans including utility assistance to homeowners in need.
  • Best Practices on Coordination with Utility Providers: Yesterday, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Treasury Department hosted a webinar with over 700 utility assistance program administrators and utility providers from across the country to discuss how programs including LIHEAP and ERA can coordinate with utility providers to increase the efficiency and reach of their programs. Panelists from across the country shared their perspectives on effective coordination between utility assistance administrators and utility providers and highlighted a range of best practices.

 Today’s announcements build on the Administration’s previous actions to ensure these historic resources are distributed swiftly and equitably:

  • Encouraged States to Plan Early: In November, the White House called on states, localities, and tribes to plan early to distribute American Rescue Plan funds to address home energy costs this winter.
  • Secured Commitments from Utilities to Avoid Shut-offs and Expedite Aid: The White House has called on utility companies to prevent devastating utility shut-offs and help expedite the delivery of unprecedented federal aid. In January, the White House announced that it has already welcomed commitments from fourteen major utility companies across the country, including Atlantic City Electric, Baltimore Gas and Electric, ComEd, Delmarva Power, DTE Energy, Eversource, Green Mountain Power, National Grid, NorthWestern Energy, Pacific Gas & Electric, PECO, Pepco, Portland General Electric and Vermont Gas, as well as the delivered fuel trade association NEFI.
  • Called for Coordination of LIHEAP and Emergency Rental Assistance Relief to Families: To maximize the impact of home energy assistance, the White House called for states, localities, and tribes to coordinate across programs including LIHEAP and ERA. The Department of Health and Human Services and the Treasury Department have issued guidance and co-hosted webinars on LIHEAP and ERA best practices that attracted 500 administrators – collectively representing 47 states, the District of Columbia, and 72 Tribal governments. More than 50 percent of these administrators now report they are coordinating across these programs.

Households in need of help with their energy bills can identify resources in their area at EnergyHelp.us or call the National Energy Assistance Referral hotline at 1-866-674-6327.

Biden Administration Details Ways Partnership with Nation’s Mayors Improved Lives, What Build Back Better Could Further Achieve

Since the start of his Administration, President Biden has prioritized local partnerships and has worked closely with mayors across the country who have been instrumental as trusted sources of information about the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines, and set up mass vaccination sites. As a result, in less than one year, over 200 million Americans have been vaccinated © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

On the occasion of President Joe Biden’s address to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, January 21, the White House issued a fact sheet detailing some of the ways the Biden-Harris Administration is working with Mayors to deliver for communities across the country, and what passing the Build Back Better agenda could mean:
 
Getting Shots in Arms and Saving Lives
Since the start of his Administration, President Biden has prioritized local partnerships and has worked closely with mayors across the country who have been instrumental as trusted sources of information about the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines.
 
Working with local governments, the Administration has shipped over 160 million pieces of personal protective equipment – gloves, gowns, masks – to protect frontline health care workers in cities across the United States. Since first launching surge response teams on July 1st, the Administration has deployed over 3,000 personnel to 39 states and 4 U.S. territories. The Administration also recently worked with several mayors and local jurisdictions to surge federal testing support and federal test sites to several cities.
 
Over 115 mayors across the country joined the White House, HHS, and We Can Do This campaign to launch a Mayors Challenge to Increase COVID-19 Vaccinations. This campaign was instrumental in increasing the adult vaccination rate through mayors sharing best practices and launching innovative efforts to boost vaccinations, including grassroots outreach, mobile and neighborhood vaccine clinics, incentives, prizes, and other efforts.

  • Richmond, VA Mayor Levar Stoney as co-lead of the Mayors Challenge, launched the #HotVaccinatedSummer campaign with the Richmond Health Department focused on taking the vaccine to residents through mobile vaccination units, pop-up vaccine sites at grocery stores, food pantries, apartment complexes, and churches, and neighborhood block parties.
     
  • Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome and New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, mayors of Louisiana’s two largest cities, launched a month-long, inter-city “New Orleans vs Baton Rouge COVID challenge” to motivate citizens to get vaccinated.
     
  • Detroit, MI Mayor Mike Duggan launched an innovative “Good Neighbor Program” where residents received gift cards for driving their neighbors to get vaccinated, as well as a door-to-door vaccination education canvassing effort.
     
  • San Antonio, TX Mayor Ron Nirenberg along with making pop-up vaccine clinics accessible, collaborated with local artists to create murals reminding residents of the importance of getting vaccinated.

Getting People Back to Work
President Biden has grown the economy faster than any first-year administration ever with 6.4 million jobs added, the most in one year on record. The unemployment rate is 3.9% – four years faster than projected because of the American Rescue Plan. The Biden-Harris agenda has provided substantial resources to state and local governments to expand and improve America’s workforce development system so that workers of all kinds from diverse communities will be prepared and successful in good-paying union jobs.
 
The American Rescue Plan (ARP) included $350 billion in state and local fiscal recovery funds that governments can use to assist workers who want and are available to work – including job training, public jobs programs, job fairs, childcare, transportation, hiring bonuses, and subsidized employment efforts). The ARP also invested $3 billion in the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to assist communities in their efforts to build back better from the pandemic, including $1 billion for the Build Back Better Regional Challenge and $500 million for a Good Jobs Challenge that will support sector partnerships that bring employers, unions, non-profits, community colleges, training providers, and local governments together to enhance local training and hiring efforts.

  • Building Bridges to Infrastructure Jobs:
    • Washington, DC is using ARP resources to expand the city’s Infrastructure Academy to ensure a diverse workforce is ready to fill the infrastructure jobs that will be created by the historic bipartisan infrastructure law.
    • Milwaukee, WI has dedicated ARP funds to launch a lead abatement workforce development program and an Earn and Learn program which assists young people entering manufacturing and other high-skill jobs.
    • Phoenix, AZ is using Rescue Plan funds to partner with local community colleges and the private sector on job training programs that not only will re-skill and re-employ individuals for new careers in high demand workforce areas, such as manufacturing, construction, and the region’s emerging semiconductor industry.
       
  • Supporting our Essential Education Workers:
    • Seattle, WA used ARP fiscal recovery funds to provide premium pay for local child care workers, up to $835 per worker who have been there for at least 6 months.
       
  • Bolstering our Health Care Workforce:
    • Chicago, IL is leveraging ARP funds to build a 2,200 public health workforce working as vaccine ambassadors and addressing vaccine resistance.
    • New York City is dedicating ARP funds to bolster their public health workforce through the New York City Public Health Corps program, which will focus on a range of public health needs – from vaccine access, to primary care, to mental health counseling.

Building a Better America
Since President Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Biden-Harris Administration has hit the ground running with a focus on fostering strong partnerships and working with mayors to implement the largest long-term investment in America’s infrastructure and competitiveness in nearly a century. The historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will rebuild crumbling road and bridges, replace lead pipes, help provide high-speed internet to every family in America, and produce concrete results that change people’s lives for the better. These results will create good-paying, union jobs, support domestic manufacturing and supply chains, and position the United States to win the 21st century. As the Administration implements the law, it is following through on President Biden’s commitment to ensure investments advance equity and racial justice, reach communities all across the country – including rural communities, communities of color, and disability communities – and strengthen the nation’s resilience to climate change. Since the enactment of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Biden Administration has it the ground running. Some of the key actions since the law’s passage include:

  • Understanding the importance of strong partnership with local governments to deliver results on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the White House appointed Mitch Landrieu, former Mayor of New Orleans and former President of the US Conference of Mayors, as Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator.
     
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced $27 billion in funding to replace, repair, and rehabilitate bridges across the country over the next five years, including many locally-owned “off system” bridges.
     
  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will invest more than $14 billion of funding for over 500 projects across 52 states and territories. These key projects will strengthen the nation’s supply chain, provide significant new economic opportunities nationwide, and bolster our defenses against climate change.
     
  • USDOT awarded $1 billion in Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grants to invest in 90 major projects across 47 states funding that will be boosted by an additional $7.5 billion in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
     
  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) at USDOT announced $3 billion for 3,075 airports across the country that can use investments to upgrade critical infrastructure.
     
  • The Vice President announced the Administration’s Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan, which includes action items focused on collaboration with local partners to accelerate the replacement of lead pipes over the next decade. As part of this plan, EPA announced $7.4 billion in funding allocations for states to upgrade America’s aging water infrastructure, sewerage systems, pipes and service lines, and more.
     
  • The Federal Communications Commission launched the Affordable Connectivity Program providing broadband subsidies of up to $30/month for low-income households (up to $75/month for households on Tribal Lands) and up to $100 towards the purchase of a desktop, laptop or tablet computer.
     
  • EPA announced $1 billion in funding to clean up 49 Superfund sites across 24 states to accelerate cleanup at dozens of other sites across the country, stop toxic waste from harming communities, and create good-paying jobs.
     
  • The Department of the Interior released initial guidance for the states interested in applying for funding to cap and plug orphaned oil and gas wells that reduce methane emissions and create jobs, with 26 states expressing interest in a portion of the $4.7 billion in funding for well plugging, remediation and restoration available in infrastructure programs.
     
  • The Department of Energy launched a new Building a Better Grid initiative to accelerate the deployment of new transition lines, and it released a notice of intent to inform the design and implementation of this historic investment.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes billions of dollars in competitive funding available to cities, towns, and municipalities across dozens of new and existing programs. As local governments begin to rebuild and reinvest in their communities, the Biden-Harris Administration stands ready to support local leaders as they combine funding streams, organize around their priorities, and build local support for long overdue infrastructure projects. The White House released a fact sheet highlights 25 already available or soon-to-be-available sources of funding that local governments – particularly cities – can compete or apply for directly. The White House will also be releasing a comprehensive guidebook of all available funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in the coming weeks.
 
Addressing Supply Chain Blockages
As our economy has turned back on from the unprecedented shutdown resulting from the pandemic, our supply chains have been strained. The Administration is working closely with  mayors and local governments across the country to mitigate supply chain blockages and ensure shelves are stocked.

  • The Administration’s port envoy has held weekly meetings with city-owned ports, including the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, to identify ways to reduce congestion and move toward 24/7 operations, which reduces the emissions and traffic in communities.
     
  • The Department of Transportation awarded more than $241 million in discretionary grants to improve ports facilities and address supply chain disruptions in 19 cities, including Houston, TX; Brunswick, GA; Bay St Louis, MS; Tell City, IN; Alpena, MI; Delcambre, LA; Oakland, CA; Portsmouth, VA; Tacoma, WA; and Long Beach, CA.
     
  • The Administration is working to help schools experiencing challenges purchasing and reliably obtaining food for their meal plans. USDA has committed $1.5 billion for schools and states to purchase foods including funding to purchase local foods from historically underserved producers and announced an adjustment in school meal reimbursements that put an estimated $750 million more into school meal programs across the nation this year.

Advancing Local Climate Action
On Day One, President Biden rejoined the Paris Agreement, reestablished U.S. leadership, and renewed the federal government’s partnership with the states, cities, Tribes, and localities that carried forward America’s progress on climate. Since then, President Biden has deployed clean wind and solar energy across the country, jumpstarted an electric vehicle future that will be built in America, advanced environmental justice in underserved communities, and taken aggressive action to make our country more resilient to climate change and extreme weather.
 
Today, President Biden will announce how the Biden-Harris Administration is teaming up with states, cities, labor, and industry to launch the Building Performance Standards Coalition, a first-of-its-kind partnership between 33 state and local governments dedicated to delivering cleaner, healthier, and more affordable buildings. States and cities part of the coalition will design and implement building performance standards that create good paying union jobs, lower the cost of energy bills for consumers, keep residents and workers safe from harmful pollution, and cut emissions from the building sector.
 
The Administration is also empowering local leaders to advance climate solutions across other sectors—for example:

  • The Department of Energy set a new National Community Solar Partnership target of powering 5 million homes by 2025, with on-demand technical assistance available to local governments, and launched the SolarAPP+ tool to help them speed up permitting of rooftop solar installations.
     
  • The Department of Transportation announced $182 million in grants for transit agencies to deploy zero-emission and low-emission transit buses, including awards to the Chicago Transit Authority; Anaheim, CA; Fort Collins, CO; Lawrence, KS; Jackson, MS; Fayetteville, NC; Lincoln, NE; Norman, OK; and more.
     
  • The EPA announced $50 million for environmental justice initiatives using ARP funds, including water infrastructure job training in Baltimore, MD; indoor air quality improvements in Fort Collins, CO; and outreach on asthma and environmental hazards in Hartford, CT. 
     
  • FEMA announced $1 billion for the FY2021 Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities program, available for cities and other levels of government to proactively invest in community resilience to hurricanes, wildfires, and other disasters.
     
  • In November 2021, President Biden and 15 bipartisan mayors representing communities across the country participated in COP26, where the President announced bold plans to reduce methane emissions, create clean energy jobs, and build back better with infrastructure initiatives that advance prosperity and combat the climate crisis.

Addressing Gun Violence and Crime
During the President’s first year in office, the Biden-Harris Administration has partnered with mayors across the country on actions to reduce gun violence and has provided historic levels of funding for community-oriented policing and expanding community violence interventions (CVI) – neighborhood-based programs proven to combat gun violence. The Administration has made historic levels of funding from the American Rescue Plan – including $350 billion in state and local funding – available to state and local governments for law enforcement purposes to advance community policing strategies and community violence interventions.

  • Working with 16-jurisdictions, the White House launched the Community Violence Intervention Collaborative, a cohort of mayors, law enforcement, CVI experts and philanthropic organizations committed to using ARP funding to increase investment in their community violence intervention infrastructure and share best practices. 
     
  • Cities including Milwaukee, WI; Albuquerque, NM; Syracuse, NY; and Mobile, AL responded to the President’s call by committing and deploying ARP funds for advancing community-oriented policing.
  • Mayors from cities across the country including Seattle, WA; Buffalo, NY; and Atlanta, GA have committed to deploy ARP fund for community violence interventions following a memo from Senior White House advisors on how state and local officials can implement ARP funding into CVI work.
     
  • Cities across the country including St. Louis, MO and Tucson, AZ committed to investing ARP funding in public safety strategies such as summer jobs for young adults and substance abuse and mental health services.

Prevent Housing Instability and Homelessness
During the President’s first year in office, the Biden-Harris Administration partnered with mayors across the country to keep Americans housed. The American Rescue Plan (ARP) included over $21 billion for the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program. These funds, together with $25 billion signed into law under the previous Administration but implemented under this Administration, enabled households to catch up on rent and avoid evictions. State and local grantees obligated over $25 billion in ERA in 2021, and these funds contributed to a historically low eviction filing rate. Also included within ARP were $5 billion in supplemental funding for HOME, which enables state and local governments to create and preserve affordable housing, and $5 billion in emergency housing vouchers to help people experiencing and at risk of homelessness secure housing.

  • In June, 46 cities joined the White House to create eviction prevention action plans as part of a first-of-its-kind summit. More than 100 eviction diversion programs were created or expanded as part of this partnership with the White House and local leaders.
     
  • Mayors from Louisville, Milwaukee, San Antonio, and Boston shared best practices in subsequent White House events including strategies to prevent evictions and distribute rental assistance to renters and landlords in need.
     
  • Dozens of mayors have signed onto House America, a federal initiative aimed at maximizing the ARP resources to address homelessness. The goal of this initiative is to cumulatively re-house 100,000 households experiencing homelessness and add 20,000 new units of affordable housing into the development pipeline by the end of 2022.

Building an Orderly, Fair, and Humane Immigration System
The Biden-Harris Administration is working to build a humane, orderly, and fair 21st century immigration system at the border and beyond. One that invests in smart technology and infrastructure at the border, that prioritizes our resources and values immigrants living in our country and contributing to our communities for generations, and that once again welcomes refugees and is a beacon of light for those seeking safe haven.
 
Since day one, the Biden-Harris Administration took steps to undo the wrongdoings of the previous Administration, including getting rid of the Muslim ban, taking steps to protect DACA recipients, and restoring our asylum system. On day one, President Biden also sent his immigration bill to Congress – The U.S. Citizenship Act – which laid out the components needed to build an updated immigration system that reflects our values and responds to our hemisphere’s current needs.
 
Working with the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State and non-profit organizations in Mexico and the United States, the Administration assisted 13,000 people in the wind down of the Migrant Protection Protocol to fight their cases in the United States. The Administration also designated Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haiti, Venezuela, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, and Burma, and expanded to El Salvador and Honduras.
 
The President tasked Vice President Harris with leading efforts to address the root causes of migration from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. The Vice President announced $310 million in urgent humanitarian relief in April 2021, in addition to the President’s FY22 budget request for $861 million for Central America. The Vice President also secured $1.2 billion from the private sector to create job programs and invest in the economic stability and prosperity for our partner countries. In addition to the work the Vice President is leading, the Administration is working with countries in South America and leaders in the hemisphere to address migration as a regional issue that necessitates regional leadership and a regional response.
 
The Administration remains committed to immigration reform, to restoring asylum, and to working with partners to ensure the safety, security, and dignity of immigrants in the region:

  • Engaged mayors and cities to amplify the broad sweeping impact President Biden’s U.S. Citizenship Act would have on all 11 million undocumented immigrants, including farm workers and individuals with Temporary Protected Status.
  • Partnered with cities including San Diego, Long Beach, Pomona, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio to stand up Emergency Influx Sites to provide temporary shelter and care for thousands of unaccompanied children.
     
  • Awarded $110 million in supplemental humanitarian funding to the National Board for Emergency Food and Shelter Program eligible to cities and services providers providing humanitarian assistance to migrants at the southern border.
     
  • Regularly engaged bipartisan border mayors to discuss and coordinate rebuilding America’s border management and asylum systems that were previously gutted by the prior administration. Additionally, engaged local elected leaders in the Rio Grande Valley, San Diego, and El Centro border sectors to protect border communities from the physical dangers resulting from the previous administration’s approach to border wall construction.

Welcoming Refugees and Resettlement Efforts
The Biden-Harris Administration has taken a whole-of-America approach to safely, securely, and effectively welcome more than 76,000 Afghan allies to the United States through the Operation Allies Welcome.
 
In close coordination with Departments and Agencies across the Federal government, the Administration has worked with state and local officials; refugee resettlement organizations; veterans; faith, private sector, and non-profit leaders to ensure Afghans are set up for success in their new communities. The White House Operation Allies Welcome team provided briefings to USCM and visited resettlement sites in six states to engage with local officials and stakeholders on the frontlines of welcoming our Afghan allies. In his capacity as OAW Coordinator, Jack Markell attended the 2021 USCM Summer Meeting in Dayton, Ohio to brief mayors on their important role in the resettlement effort.

  • USCM Past President Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin led the effort for USCM’s resolution in support of Afghan resettlement and welcomed briefings from senior Administration officials to keep mayors updated on resettlement efforts
     
  • Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner worked with local resettlement agencies to raise more than $8.5 million dollars for the Houston Afghan Resettlement Fund (HARF) to help the local resettlement agencies provide additional services for Afghan evacuees
     
  • Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt collaborated with the local resettlement agency to identify additional funding stream to for affordable housing for Afghan evacuees
     
  • Lansing Mayor Andy Schor worked with the local school district to ensure a warm welcome to arriving Afghans students and families.
     

Sacramento Mayor Darryl Steinberg coordinated with state, county, and local leaders to create a new coalition called the American Network of Services for Afghanistan Refugees (ANSAR) to assist in meeting the needs of Afghan families.

In addition to President Biden, ten members of the President’s Cabinet spoke at the USCM Winter Meeting, including Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and EPA Administrator Regan. Senior Administration officials including ARP Coordinator Gene Sperling, Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator Mitch Landrieu, and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Julie Rodriguez will also speak at the event.

NYS Governor Announces $30 Million to Incentivize Building Green (DeCarbonized) Houses

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the launch of a new $30 million initiative called Building Better Homes – Emissions Free and Healthier Communities to build market capacity and demand for healthier decarbonized homes and neighborhoods. The initiative will establish a network of builders and developers that are committed to building carbon neutral single-family homes and neighborhoods and provide training and technical support to builders and developers interested in both advancing the single-family carbon neutral housing market and marketing themselves as leaders in decarbonization and healthy home construction © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the launch of a new $30 million initiative called Building Better Homes – Emissions Free and Healthier Communities to build market capacity and demand for healthier decarbonized homes and neighborhoods. The initiative will establish a network of builders and developers that are committed to building carbon neutral single-family homes and neighborhoods and provide training and technical support to builders and developers interested in both advancing the single-family carbon neutral housing market and marketing themselves as leaders in decarbonization and healthy home construction. Advancing carbon neutrality in the building sector supports the state’s nation-leading goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent by 2050 as mandated by the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act).  

“Single-family homes are too often overlooked as sources of greenhouse gas emissions in New York and it’s crucial we work with both developers and homebuyers to reduce emissions,” Governor Hochul said. “Through the Building Better Homes initiative and its incentives, we are not only ensuring homebuyers have greener options to choose from, but also that we continue to work with the building and development industries to pave the way towards a more sustainable future.”

The initiative will be administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and today’s announcement makes $5 million available under phase one of the program to support builders and developers seeking training, technical assistance, marketing support, and funding to build carbon-free model homes. This program will grow the carbon neutral single-family home market as well as support modernization and decarbonization of building designs and construction practices to incorporate carbon neutral technologies and cost-effectively deliver high quality, healthy, resilient, and sustainable homes. Applications to become a program partner, with up to $250,000 available per partner, will be accepted through December 31, 2023. For more information on this opportunity and how to become a partner, please visit NYSERDA’s website.

As part of the Building Better Homes initiative, NYSERDA is also partnering with New York State Builders Association and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), to advance construction of carbon neutral homes and promote their non-energy benefits, particularly indoor air quality improvements associated with the absence of combustion appliances and the inclusion of balanced ventilation. These partnerships will provide information about the health benefits of carbon neutral construction that builders and developers can integrate into their own materials to educate homebuyers. Through the partnership with AAFA and their existing diversity, equity and inclusion programming, special attention will be paid to educating the builder network about the health benefits of carbon neutral construction in disadvantaged communities, which traditionally have higher rates of asthma and allergy, in part due to the siting of fossil fuel plants and transportation corridors in these neighborhoods as well as in-home combustion.

NYSERDA is launching the Building Better Homes initiative, in recognition of the impact of harmful building emissions on New York State residents and the world in general,” President and CEO of NYSERDA Doreen Harris said. “Through public-private partnerships, we are taking action to transform the market for carbon neutral homes by highlighting the health benefits of this type of construction and catalyzing market demand as we advance the state’s climate and clean energy goals.”

With over 12,000 new homes being built per year, addressing the single-family home new construction market is critical to achieving the State’s climate and energy goals. As the State implements the Climate Act, any home built with fossil fuel equipment and appliances will need to be retrofitted in the future, adding costs and hassle to homeowners. Building entire neighborhoods without the need to expand natural gas infrastructure, while still providing the quality and features that homeowners want such as fireplaces, swimming pool heaters, and outdoor entertainment areas, will significantly reduce the costs of new developments.

“Build Better Homes is an important initiative in our efforts to put New York on the path toward reaching our goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions,” State Senator Brian Kavanagh said. “In addition to strong mandates for zero-emissions, we will need to increase the capacity of the building sector to build all-electric homes and other critical sustainable infrastructure, as this program will do. While there is an urgent need to invest in sustainability on a much larger scale, Build Better Homes is a good step in the right direction. I thank Governor Kathy Hochul, NYSERDA Chair Richard Kauffman, and everyone at NYSERDA for their ongoing commitment to making New York a leader in creating a sustainableworld.”

“Today’s announcement of the Building Better Homes initiative demonstrates our state’s continued commitment to achieving our statewide emissions and energy goals,” Assemblymember Michael Cusick said. “In order to meet these goals we must address all sources of emissions including single family homes. While larger commercial or residential buildings are often highlighted as major targets for emissions reduction, it is crucial that we not overlook any source of infrastructure emissions and this initiative is a strong step towards significantly reducing single family home emissions.”

“NYSBA is proud to support this Building Better Homes initiative that will enable builders and developers to meet increased performance requirements and build healthier homes for their customers,” Assemblymember Michael Cusick said. “NYSBA strongly believes that state financial investment plays an important role in providing builders and homeowners a cost-effective way to invest in energy efficiency.”

“The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) is grateful for the work New York is doing to make homes healthier and safer for people affected by asthma and allergies, by improving indoor environments and removing emissions-emitting appliances within the home,” CEO and President of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America Kenneth Mendez said. “Making healthier homes available will improve the lives of families in New York State and I hope will improve health outcomes for communities that are disproportionately impacted by asthma and allergies.”

“New York State and NYSERDA continue to be leaders in the effort to decarbonize the built environment, and we at Phius are proud to be working alongside them in an effort to bring healthier, more efficient homes to the residents of New York and beyond. We hope to see other states and municipalities continue to follow suit in the near future,” Executive Director and Co-Founder of Passive House Institute of the United States (PHIUS) Katrin Klingenberg said, 

Building Better Homes is part of a multi-year investment to decarbonize single family home new construction, and subsequent phases of the program will provide funding for entire carbon neutral neighborhoods to be built, with a goal to increase home buyer demand for healthier carbon neutral homes by educating home buyers on the health and performance benefits. NYSERDA will launch the second phase of this program in mid-2022 with $10 million in funding as a design competition, similar to its successful Buildings of Excellence Competition, which awards exemplary carbon-neutral multifamily building designs. A third component of the program will launch in 2022 to build consumer demand by educating homebuyers on healthy and emissions free home construction.

Today’s announcement also advances recommendations included in New York State’s draft Carbon Neutral Buildings Roadmap, which identified building market capacity through training and technical support as a critical barrier to achieve scale for decarbonization in the new construction market. 

Buildings are some of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in New York State, and integrating energy efficiency and electrification measures in existing buildings will reduce carbon pollution and help achieve more sustainable, healthy, and comfortable buildings. Through NYSERDA and utility programs, over $6.8 billion is being invested to decarbonize buildings across the State. In addition to the carbon benefits, these projects will also help the State achieve its ambitious energy efficiency target to reduce on-site energy consumption by 185 TBtu by 2025, the equivalent of powering 1.8 million homes.

This program is funded through NYSERDA’s $6 billion Clean Energy Fund. 

New York State’s Nation-Leading Climate Act

New York State’s nation-leading climate agenda is the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, calling for an orderly and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy as New York State recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Enshrined into law through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York is on a path to achieve its mandated goal of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and to reach economy wide carbon neutrality. It builds on New York’s unprecedented investments to ramp-up clean energy including over $33 billion in 102 large-scale renewable and transmission projects across the state, $6.8 billion to reduce buildings emissions, $1.8 billion to scale up solar, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and over $1.6 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. Combined, these investments are supporting nearly 158,000 jobs in New York’s clean energy sector in 2020, a 2,100 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011 and a commitment to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035. Under the Climate Act, New York will build on this progress and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, while ensuring that at least 35 percent, with a goal of 40 percent, of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities, and advance progress towards the state’s 2025 energy efficiency target of reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 trillion BTUs of end-use energy savings.

Biden Administration Takes Action to Protect Americans from Rising Home Heating Costs

The Biden-Harris Administration called on states, localities and tribes to plan early and coordinate across programs to effectively use historic American Rescue Plan resources to address home energy costs this winter. The White House also called on utility companies that receive public dollars to prevent devastating utility shut-offs this winter and help expedite the delivery of unprecedented federal aid © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Biden Administration, recognizing the pressure American families are under because of rapidly rising costs for food, gasoline and home heating oil, largely caused by the sudden surge in demand at a time when supply chains are still struggling under the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, has taken a number of steps to alleviate pressure. The administration has worked to alleviate the bottlenecks at major ports, facilitated hiring of truck drivers, and has relieved much of the pressure (Los Angeles port has 29 percent fewer containers waiting to be dispatched); Biden has directed the FTC to insure gas and oil companies are not gouging consumers, and now, the Biden Administration announced it would deploy American Rescue Plan funds to protect American families from home heating costs. Here is a fact sheet of the Administration’s actions on home heating costs – Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

FACT SHEET:

Biden Administration Deploys American Rescue Plan Funds to Protect Americans from Rising Home Heating Costs; Calls on Utility Companies to Prevent Shut Offs This Winter

 Unprecedented Funding and Partnerships with State, Local and Tribal Governments to Protect Vulnerable Homeowners and Renters

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration called on states, localities and tribes to plan early and coordinate across programs to effectively use historic American Rescue Plan resources to address home energy costs this winter. The White House also called on utility companies that receive public dollars to prevent devastating utility shut-offs this winter and help expedite the delivery of unprecedented federal aid.
 
The American Rescue Plan provides critical resources that states, localities and tribes can use to address home energy costs:

  • More than doubling available Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding: The recent average annual funding for LIHEAP is $3-4 billion, which typically serves 5 million households. The American Rescue Plan provided an additional $4.5 billion available until September 2022.
     
  • Delivering Emergency Rental Assistance—unavailable in previous winters—to help cover utility bills: First established last December—and provided an additional $21.5 billion in funding by the American Rescue Plan—Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) programs provide help with past-due utility bills or ongoing assistance with energy costs to help distressed renters avoid shut-offs and keep current on expenses. Even as most programs were just beginning to ramp up between January and June 2021, grantees made over 200,000 payments to support households with utility arrears and over 140,000 prospective utility payments.
     
  • Providing state, local and tribal governments additional resources to help energy-burdened middle-class families, including through the $350 billion State & Local Fiscal Recovery Fund: States and localities have the flexibility to use Fiscal Recovery Funds to help deliver energy relief to families, including for middle-class households that may not be eligible for programs directed to the lowest income consumers.

Today the White House called on Utilities and Energy Providers to Commit to Proactively Use Their Resources to Help

The Administration welcomed initial commitments from several utility companies including DTE EnergyEversourceNational GridNorthWestern Energy and Portland General Electric, as well as the delivered fuel trade association NEFI, that all agreed to the following:

  • Identify Eligible Recipients: Many utility companies already offer programs to help families in need. Utilities should proactively identify those who may be eligible for public benefits, such as LIHEAP and ERA, using financial hardship and other customer data. In order to help identify and prequalify customers for benefits, utilities can also use third-party data – such as whether a home is rented or owned and which census tract it is in – and data through partnership with government agencies including income or proxies, like eligibility for other programs. For example, in Connecticut, utilities are using third-party data to pre-qualify and contact customers, and share the results with state agencies to expedite energy assistance payments.
     
  • Directly Screen and Notify Potentially Eligible Recipients: Utilities and energy providers should inform customers of energy assistance programs, screen customers for benefits eligibility, and facilitate referrals to available benefits programs prior to any shut-offs.
     
  • Expedite Assistance to Vulnerable Households: Energy providers should be critical partners by proactively working to establish the processes and data-sharing relationships needed to speed benefits to their eligible customers as quickly as possible. For example, in Michigan, utilities work in partnership with the state to receive bundled payments on behalf of many customers at once, speeding processing and helping benefits quickly reach their customer’s accounts. In South Carolina, utility companies receive a bulk payment from the state prior to the full satisfaction of application and documentation requirements that they can use to apply benefits to customers quickly.
     
  • No Shutoffs for Customers Applying for Financial Hardship Assistance: Beyond state or local shut-off moratoria requirements, when utility companies are notified that a customer is applying for financial hardship assistance, including energy assistance benefits, they should commit to restore service or delay shut-off. For example, in Michigan, once a household applies for ERA utility benefits, the utility company places a hold on utility shut off. Utilities should also commit to provide at least 30 days’ notice to all customers before a shut-off.
     
  • Facilitate Assistance to Delivered Fuel Customers: In order to expedite benefits, providers of delivered fuels should commit to proactively notify families in distress of how to contact a state and local agency for assistance. Fuel providers with capacity should set up processes to facilitate referrals with customer permission. Fuel providers should prioritize deliveries to households approved for benefits, particularly where providers receive direct deposits credited to customer accounts prior to or immediately following delivery. Fuel providers with capacity should go even further by agreeing to deliver fuels to approved households through deferred payment or budgeting agreements.

Today the Administration also called on States, Localities and Tribes to:
 
Prepare Early to Distribute Expanded LIHEAP to More Families

  • Strong and Effective Winter Plans: The Administration is providing technical assistance to LIHEAP grantees to speed up state and local planning and program implementation for winter.
     
  • Quick and Automatic Distribution of Benefits: HHS is urging grantees to consider expediting payments to households that have benefitted from LIHEAP in previous years and simplifying eligibility verification. This option will not be appropriate for all grantees, but some states have already shown it can work. For example, Maine and New York are providing automatic payments to households who have received benefits in the past.
     
  • Expanded Outreach to Newly Eligible Households: HHS is urging grantees to consider additional outreach to households who need energy assistance for the first time this year. A significant number of households receive LIHEAP year after year, but as a result of the economic disruption of the pandemic and rising energy prices additional households are expected to need help. These households may be unfamiliar with how to access benefits, and grantees can help these families access the unprecedented LIHEAP resources available as well as refer to other benefits.
     
  • Coordination between LIHEAP, ERA and Other Programs: Given differences in eligibility, HHS and Treasury are clarifying how grantees of LIHEAP and ERA can coordinate to quickly provide benefits to eligible households. Coordination ensures support can reach a greater number of households, including those who do not qualify for LIHEAP due to their household incomes, people on fixed incomes, the elderly, and others in need. These best practices include coordinating outreach to households, establishing regular communication with program leaders and energy providers, streamlining intake, and referring across programs as appropriate. For example, rental households not fully served by LIHEAP could be referred to ERA, and homeowners could be referred to LIHEAP. Where available, the Homeowners Assistance Fund may be able to serve middle-class homeowner households.

 Use of Emergency Rental Assistance to Aid Renters with Utility Costs

  • Provide Forward-Looking Assistance to Low-income Renters Facing High Energy Costs: The Treasury Department is encouraging grantees to take advantage of the flexibility to provide forward-looking utility assistance payments over the next several months to low-income families facing high heating costs, including for those renters who rely on delivered fuels to heat their homes. ERA grantees may also cover arrears and related fees for utility bills dating back to the start of the pandemic.
     
  • Lower Burdens and Speed Assistance to Distressed Renters Through Collaboration between ERA Program Administrators and Utility Providers: The Administration is facilitating cooperation between state and local governments and utility providers to identify customers at risk of energy insecurity and confirm household eligibility. To support this effort, the Treasury Department has issued guidance encouraging grantees to establish data sharing agreements and bulk payment methods with utility providers.
     
  • Expedite Payments Through Partnerships with Non-Profits to Prevent the Loss of Utility Services: When the rapid delivery of a payment could reasonably be necessary to prevent the loss of utility services, Treasury has provided grantees flexibility to partner with nonprofit organizations for the purpose of making immediate payments while a household’s application is still being processed.
     
  • Increased Home Heating Costs Can Qualify Income-Eligible Households for Needed Assistance this WinterThe Treasury Department is clarifying that elevated energy costs may be a form of COVID-19-related hardship that puts distressed renters at-risk of housing instability qualifying them for assistance with their utilities. Households can self-attest to experiencing both a COVID-related hardship and risk of housing instability based on significant increases in their home heating costs.

Use All Available Tools to Help Working and Middle-Class Families

  • State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund Can Help Families Ineligible for Other Support: States, localities and tribes can tap the $350 billion allocated by the American Rescue Plan to provide additional relief on home heating costs, particularly to middle-class households. For example, Louisville has supported a utility relief fund that provides residents who have fallen behind on gas or electric bills a one-time credit of up to $1,000.
     
  • $10 Billion Homeowners Assistance Fund to help Distressed Homeowners Keep Up with Utility Bills: Treasury is encouraging states, tribes and territories to utilize funds from this American Rescue Plan program to help cover home energy costs or prevent the loss of utilities this winter, including for hard-pressed middle-class families.
     
  • $1 Billion Pandemic Emergency Assistance Fund: The American Rescue Plan also created a new fund for states, territories and tribes of which a substantial portion remains and is available to provide cash or utility-specific assistance to needy families. 

The Administration also Highlighted Additional Financial Support Helping Hard-Pressed Families with Energy Costs:

  • 1/3 of Families Using Child Tax Credit for Utility Bills: Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, the families of more than 61 million children are receiving expanded monthly Child Tax Credit payments up to $300 per child and nearly a third used it to pay for utilities –including home energy costs – between July and October 2021.
     
  • Weatherization Assistance to Reduce Energy Costs: The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act invests a historic $3.5 billion in the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program, reducing energy costs for more than 700,000 low-income households by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes.
     
  • $100 million to Cover Rent and Utilities in Hard-Hit Rural Areas: The American Rescue Plan is providing financial support through September 2022 to over 26,000 overburdened rural households living in multi-family housing financed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • Preventing Families from Choosing “Heat or Eat”: More low-income children and families face hunger when energy prices rise during winter as higher home heating costs eat up family budgets. The Biden-Harris Administration increased Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits on October 1 by an average of $36.24 per month, which will help to prevent this cruel tradeoff between heat and food this winter.

Secretaries of USDA, HUD, VA, Treasury, FHFA Acting Director Release Joint Statement on Agency Actions to Prevent Evictions

Fearing a rise in homelessness because the CDC’s eviction moratorium expired and the Supreme Court ruled it could not be extended, the Biden Administration is instructing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to extend their foreclosure-related eviction moratoria until September 30, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com 

With the expiration of the CDC’s housing moratorium, President Joe Biden instructed key agencies to take actions to protect renters at risk of eviction. President Biden issued this statement:

“As the eviction moratorium deadline approaches tomorrow, I call on all state and local governments to take all possible steps to immediately disburse these funds given the imminent ending of the CDC eviction moratorium. State and local governments began receiving Emergency Rental Assistance funding in February and were eligible for an additional $21.5 billion passed in the American Rescue Plan. Five months later, with localities across the nation showing that they can deliver funds effectively – there can be no excuse for any state or locality not accelerating funds to landlords and tenants that have been hurt during this pandemic.  Every state and local government must get these funds out to ensure we prevent every eviction we can. State and local governments can and should use both the Emergency Rental Assistance and their American Rescue Plan state and local funds to support policies with courts, community groups, and legal aid to ensure no one seeks an eviction when they have not sought out Emergency Rental Assistance funds. State and local governments should also be aware that there is no legal barrier to moratorium at the state and local level. My Administration will not rest – nor should state and local governments – until Emergency Rental Assistance dollars reach Americans in need.”

This joint statement from the Secretaries of USDA, HUD, VA, Treasury and the FHFA Acting Director on agency actions to prevent evictions following the expiration of the moratorium on evictions and the Supreme Court’s decision rendering the CDC unable to extend the moratorium, has been forwarded by the White House:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) eviction moratorium is in place until July 31st, but the Supreme Court’s ruling made clear that CDC cannot extend the moratorium past its current expiration date. In light of that decision, the Biden-Harris Administration is taking steps to protect renters at risk of eviction. Today, at the President’s request, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) have extended their foreclosure-related eviction moratoria until September 30, 2021. 
 
The President further asked our agencies, which play a significant role in providing and insuring affordable rental housing, to explore all available tools to keep American safe and housed. Through nearly 20 programs, financial incentives, tax credits, loans and guarantees, the federal government provides owners and operators of rental housing with significant support to provide housing to renters. As Secretaries of Agriculture, HUD, VA, and Treasury, and Acting Director of the FHFA, we recognize that our agencies provide the financial resources and incentives for federally-assisted and financed rental housing. We want to make clear that the owners and operators of this housing should make every effort to access Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) resources to avoid evicting a tenant for non-payment of rent. These resources are available in every state, and many counties and cities are also running local programs. Owners and operators of federally-assisted housing are stewards of important public resources and should access rental assistance both to prevent unnecessary human suffering and to protect the public investment in affordable housing.
 
The American Rescue Plan allocated an additional $21.5 billion for ERA that can be used by renters to cover rent and make landlords whole. This is on top of $25 billion allocated under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, bringing the total amount of ERA available to more than $46 billion and creating an economic, public health, and moral imperative for state and local governments to rise to the challenge of building a new infrastructure for getting ERA to vulnerable renters and landlords. 
 
While few state and local agencies had ERA programs prior to this funding becoming available, the Administration has engaged in a whole-of-government effort to drive the distribution of these resources. Treasury has developed flexible program rules to make assistance easier to access, provided best practices for establishing effective programs, and communicated consequences for a lack of performance by state and local grantees.  
 
To support Treasury as it implements the ERA program, HUD is providing technical assistance to HUD grantees and working with public housing authorities, private landlords, and tribal communities, to ensure that households and landlords participating in HUD’s federally-subsidized programs know the process for obtaining ERA, and that assistance is targeted to communities who need help the most.
 
The USDA is also committed to sharing ERA program information with rural communities. Within the USDA Multi-Family portfolio, there are approximately 65,000 tenants who do not receive rental assistance. Earlier this month, USDA sent letters to these tenants that included information on how to apply for the ERA program. Additionally, USDA has amplified the ERA program to over 250,000 online subscribers and rural leaders at the state and local level. USDA has also instructed Farm Service Agency and Rural Development State Offices to share ERA program hard copy materials with rural residents.
 
In addition to the direct and indirect steps VA is taking to help Veterans who are experiencing financial hardships as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is providing a one-stop website to inform Veterans facing housing instability of the programs and resources across the federal government that are available to them.
 
The Administration has engaged in a whole-of-government approach – together with major nonprofits and companies – to amplify the availability of these resources. This effort has reached tens of millions of households to let them know that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created a locater tool to help landlords and tenants find a program in their jurisdiction.
 
The delivery of ERA is ramping up as a result of these efforts and the hard work of public servants in state and local governments across the nation. A total of $1.5 billion in assistance was delivered to more than 290,000 renters in the month of June alone. But state and local governments must do better. Money is available in every state to help renters who are behind on rent and at risk of eviction, as well as landlords.
 
Our country and economy are in a stronger position now than they were in January 2021, yet households across the country, especially those that are not vaccinated, remain vulnerable to COVID-19 and its associated impacts, including housing insecurity. Helping our fellow Americans, including our Veterans, keep their homes will go a long way in making sure that they have one less thing to worry about as they rebuild their lives coming out of this crisis and try to keep their loved ones safe.

Biden in Tulsa on Centennial of Race Massacre Stands up for Economic Justice, Voting Rights

On the centennial of the race massacre, President Biden visited Tulsa – the first president to acknowledge this horrific atrocity, this gigantic crack in the mirror of American “Exceptionalism” – and advanced an economic justice agenda, including promoting access to homeownership © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via MSNBC.

In moving remarks, President Joe Biden, only the first sitting president to acknowledge the Tulsa Race Massacre of 100 years ago, tackled systemic, institutional racism and laid out a plan for economic justice including improving access to homeownership (the most significant factor in family wealth), investments in minority-owned small businesses and disadvantaged communities, and said he would act to preserve voting rights. He pointed to the most significant threat against domestic tranquility – White Supremacy and the rise of domestic terrorists – drawing a line from the Tulsa Race Massacre a century ago and today, and tackled the latest assault by right-wingers to whitewash history, rather than take responsibility.

We can’t just choose to learn what we want to know and not what we should know.  We should know the good, the bad, everything.  That’s what great nations do: They come to terms with their dark sides.  And we’re a great nation. The only way to build a common ground is to truly repair and to rebuild”

“Only with truth can come healing and justice and repair.” 

Biden said,And there’s greater recognition that, for too long, we’ve allowed a narrowed, cramped view of the promise of this nation to fester — the view that America is a zero-sum game where there is only one winner.  “If you succeed, I fail.  If you get ahead, I fall behind.  If you get a job, I lose mine.”   And maybe worst of all, “If I hold you down, I lift myself up,” instead of “If you do well, we all do well.”  (Applause.)  We see that in Greenwood.
 
“This story isn’t about the loss of life, but a loss of living, of wealth and prosperity and possibilities that still reverberates today.”

He announced significant policies aimed at redressing generational discrimination:

“Today, we’re announcing two expanded efforts targeted toward Black wealth creation that will also help the entire community.  The first is: My administration has launched an aggressive effort to combat racial discrimination in housing.  That includes everything from redlining to the cruel fact that a home owned by a Black family is too often appraised at a lower value than a similar home owned by a white family…

“I’m going to increase the share of the dollars the federal government spends to small, disadvantaged businesses, including Black and brown small businesses” from 10 percent to 15 percent.

Biden laid out a plan to use infrastructure investments to specifically improve lives in historically disadvantaged communities.

Then the President turned to voting rights, which Congressman john Lewis called “precious,” “almost sacred”… “The most powerful nonviolent tool we have in a democratic society”.

Biden declared, “This sacred right is under assault with an incredible intensity like I’ve never seen.. It’s simply un-American.  It is not, however, sadly, unprecedented,” and vowed to ”today, let me be unequivocal: we’re going to be ramping up our efforts to overcome again.” He said june would be a month of action, called upon voting rights groups to engage in voter registration campaigns and designated Vice President Kamala Harris as the point-person in his administration to get Congress to pass critical voting rights legislation, including the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. 

But returning to the Tulsa Massacre of 100 years ago, he said that violence resonates again in the rise of White Supremacy, Neo-Nazism, the resurrection of the KKK – the rise of hate crimes and terror against blacks, Asian-Americans, Jews – as was on display in Charlottesville NC that inspired Biden to run for president to “reclaim the soul of the nation.”

“Hate is never defeated; it only hides,” Biden declared. “And given a little bit of oxygen — just a little bit oxygen — by its leaders, it comes out of there from under the rock like it was happening again, as if it never went away. We must not give hate a safe harbor.”

“Terrorism from white supremacy is the most lethal threat to the homeland today.  Not ISIS, not al Qaeda — white supremacists” and promised to soon lay out “a broader strategy to counter domestic terrorism and the violence driven by the most heinous hate crimes and other forms of bigotry.” 
 
Here is a highlighted transcript:

President Joe Biden visits the Greenwood Cultural Center which harbors the history of the Tulsa Race Massacre of June 1, 1921 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via MSNBC.

I just toured the Hall of Survivors here in Greenwood Cultural Center, and I want to thank the incredible staff for hosting us here.  And — (applause) — I mean that sincerely.  Thank you.
 
In the tour, I met Mother Randle, who’s only 56 [107] years old.  (Laughter.)  God love her.  And Mother Fletcher, who’s 67 [106] years old.  (Laughter.)  And her brother — her brother, Van Ellis, who’s 100 years old.  (Laughter.)  And he looks like he’s 60.  Thank you for spending so much time with me.  I really mean it.  It was a great honor.  A genuine honor.
 
You are the three known remaining survivors of a story seen in the mirror dimly.  But no longer.  Now your story will be known in full view.
 
The events we speak of today took place 100 years ago.  And yet, I’m the first President in 100 years ever to come to Tulsa — (applause) — I say that not as a compliment about me, but to think about it — a hundred years, and the first President to be here during that entire time, and in this place, in this ground, to acknowledge the truth of what took place here.
 
For much too long, the history of what took place here was told in silence, cloaked in darkness.  But just because history is silent, it doesn’t mean that it did not take place.  And while darkness can hide much, it erases nothing.  It erases nothing.  Some injustices are so heinous, so horrific, so grievous they can’t be buried, no matter how hard people try.
 
And so it is here.  Only — only with truth can come healing and justice and repair.  Only with truth, facing it.  But that isn’t enough. 
 
First, we have to see, hear, and give respect to Mother Randle, Mother Fletcher, and Mr. Van Ellis.  (Applause.)  To all those lost so many years ago, to all the descendants of those who suffered, to this community — that’s why we’re here: to shine a light, to make sure America knows the story in full.
 
May 1921: Formerly enslaved Black people and their descendants are here in Tulsa — a boom town of oil and opportunity in a new frontier.
 
On the north side, across the rail tracks that divided the city already segregated by law, they built something of their own, worthy — worthy of their talent and their ambition: Greenwood — a community, a way of life.  Black doctors and lawyers, pastors, teachers; running hospitals, law practices, libraries, churches, schools.
 
Black veterans, like a man I had the privilege to giving a Command Coin to, who fought — volunteered and fought, and came home and still faced such prejudice.  (Applause.)  Veterans had been back a few years helping after winning the first World War, building a new life back home with pride and confidence, who were a mom-and — they were, at the time — mom-and-plack [sic] — mom-and-pop Black diners, grocery stores, barber shops, tailors — the things that make up a community.
 
At the Dreamland Theatre, a young Black couple, holding hands, falling in love.  Friends gathered at music clubs and pool halls; at the Monroe family roller-skating rink.  Visitors staying in hotels, like the Stradford.
 
All around, Black pride shared by the professional class and the working class who lived together, side by side, for blocks on end.
 
Mother Randle was just six years old — six years old — living with her grandmom.  She said she was lucky to have a home and toys, and fortunate to live without fear.
 
Mother Fletcher was seven years old, the second of seven children.  The youngest, being Mr. Van Ellis, was just a few months old.  The children of former sharecroppers, when they went to bed at night in Greenwood, Mother Fletcher says they fell asleep rich in terms of the wealth — not real wealth, but a different wealth — a wealth in culture and community and heritage.  (Applause.) 
 
But one night — one night changed everything.  Everything changed.  While Greenwood was a community to itself, it was not separated from the outside.
 
It wasn’t everyone, but there was enough hate, resentment, and vengeance in the community.  Enough people who believed that America does not belong to everyone and not everyone is created equal — Native Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, Black Americans.  A belief enforced by law, by badge, by hood and by noose.  
 
And it speaks to that — lit the fuse.  It lit it by the spark that it provided — a fuse of fury — was an innocent interaction that turned into a terrible, terrible headline allegation of a Black male teenager attacking a white female teenager.
 
A white mob of 1,000 gathered around the courthouse where the Black teenager was being held, ready to do what still occurred: lynch that young man that night.  But 75 Black men, including Black veterans, arrived to stand guard. 
 
Words were exchanged.  Then a scuffle.  Then shots fired.  Hell was unleashed.  Literal hell was unleashed. 
 
Through the night and into the morning, the mob terrorized Greenwood.  Torches and guns.  Shooting at will.  A mob tied a Black man by the waist to the back of their truck with his head banging along the pavement as they drove off.  A murdered Black family draped over the fence of their home outside.  An elderly couple, knelt by their bed, praying to God with their heart and their soul, when they were shot in the back of their heads.
 
Private planes — private planes — dropping explosives — the first and only domestic aerial assault of its kind on an American city here in Tulsa.
 
Eight of Greenwood’s nearly two dozen churches burned, like Mt. Zion — across the street, at Vernon AME.
 
Mother Randle said it was like war.  Mother Fletcher says, all these years later, she still sees Black bodies around.
 
The Greenwood newspaper publisher A.J. Smitherman penned a poem of what he heard and felt that night.  And here’s the poem.  He said, “Kill them, burn them, set the pace… teach them how to keep their place.  Reign of murder, theft, and plunder was the order of the night.”  That’s what he remembered in the poem that he wrote.
 
One hundred years ago at this hour, on this first day of June, smoke darkened the Tulsa sky, rising from 35 blocks of Greenwood that were left in ash and ember, razed and in rubble.
 

Greenwood burning. In 24 hours, 1000 homes and businesses in the “Black Wall Street” community – so named for its prosperity – were burned, hundreds massacred, 10,000 left homeless and marched into internment camps by White Supremacists. “Only with truth can come healing and justice and repair,” President Joe Biden declared  © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via MSNBC.

In less than 24 hours, 1,100 Black homes and businesses were lost.  Insurance companies — they had insurance, many of them — rejected claims of damage.  Ten thousand people were left destitute and homeless, placed in internment camps.
 
As I was told today, they were told, “Don’t you mention you were ever in a camp or we’ll come and get you.”  That’s what survivors told me.
 
Yet no one — no arrests of the mob were made.  None.  No proper accounting of the dead.  The death toll records by local officials said there were 36 people.  That’s all.  Thirty-six people.
 
But based on studies, records, and accounts, the likelihood — the likely number is much more, in the multiple of hundreds. Untold bodies dumped into mass graves.  Families who, at the time, waited for hours and days to know the fate of their loved ones are now descendants who have gone 100 years without closure.
 
But, you know, as we speak, the process — the process of exhuming the unmarked graves has started.  And at this moment, I’d like to pause for a moment of silence for the fathers, the mothers, the sisters, sons, and daughters, friends of God and Greenwood.  They deserve dignity, and they deserve our respect.  May their souls rest in peace.
 
[Pause for a moment of silence.]
 
My fellow Americans, this was not a riot.  This was a massacre — (applause) — among the worst in our history, but not the only one.  And for too long, forgotten by our history.
 
As soon as it happened, there was a clear effort to erase it from our memory — our collective memories — from the news and everyday conversations.  For a long time, schools in Tulsa didn’t even teach it, let alone schools elsewhere.
 
And most people didn’t realize that, a century ago, a second Ku Klux Klan had been founded — the second Ku Klux Klan had been founded.
 
A friend of mine, Jon Meacham — I had written — when I said I was running to restore the soul of America, he wrote a book called “The Soul of America” — not because of what I said.  And there’s a picture about page 160 in his book, showing over 30,000 Ku Klux Klan members in full regalia, Reverend — pointed hats, the robes — marching down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.  Jesse, you know all about this.  Washin- — Washington, D.C.
 
If my memory is correct, there were 37 members of the House of Representatives who were open members of the Klan.  There were five, if I’m not mistaken — it could have been seven; I think it was five — members of the United States Senate — open members of the Klan.  Multiple governors who were open members of the Klan.
 
Most people didn’t realize that, a century ago, the Klan was founded just six years before the horrific destruction here in Tulsa.  And one of the reasons why it was founded was because of guys like me, who were Catholic.  It wasn’t about African Americans, then; it was about making sure that all those Polish and Irish and Italian and Eastern European Catholics who came to the United States after World War One would not pollute Christianity.
 
The flames from those burning crosses torched every region — region of the country.  Millions of white Americans belonged to the Klan, and they weren’t even embarrassed by it; they were proud of it.
 
And that hate became embedded systematically and systemically in our laws and our culture.  We do ourselves no favors by pretending none of this ever happened or that it doesn’t impact us today, because it does still impact us today.
 
We can’t just choose to learn what we want to know and not what we should know.  (Applause.)  We should know the good, the bad, everything.  That’s what great nations do: They come to terms with their dark sides.  And we’re a great nation.
 
The only way to build a common ground is to truly repair and to rebuild.  I come here to help fill the silence, because in silence, wounds deepen.  (Applause.)  And only — as painful as it is, only in remembrance do wounds heal.  We just have to choose to remember.
 
We memorialize what happened here in Tulsa so it can be –so it can’t be erased.  We know here, in this hallowed place, we simply can’t bury pain and trauma forever.
 
And at some point, there will be a reckoning, an inflection point, like we’re facing right now as a nation.
 
What many people hadn’t seen before or ha- — or simply refused to see cannot be ignored any longer.  You see it in so many places. 
 
And there’s greater recognition that, for too long, we’ve allowed a narrowed, cramped view of the promise of this nation to fester — the view that America is a zero-sum game where there is only one winner.  “If you succeed, I fail.  If you get ahead, I fall behind.  If you get a job, I lose mine.”   And maybe worst of all, “If I hold you down, I lift myself up,” instead of “If you do well, we all do well.”  (Applause.)  We see that in Greenwood.
 
This story isn’t about the loss of life, but a loss of living, of wealth and prosterity [prosperity] and possibilities that still reverberates today.
 
Mother Fletcher talks about how she was only able to attend school until the fourth grade and eventually found work in the shipyards, as a domestic worker.
 
Mr. Van Ellis has shared how, even after enlisting and serving in World War Two, he still came home to struggle with a segregated America.
 
Imagine all those hotels and dinners [diners] and mom-and-pop shops that could been — have been passed down this past hundred years.  Imagine what could have been done for Black families in Greenwood: financial security and generational wealth.
 
If you come from backgrounds like my — my family — a working-class, middle-class family — the only way we were ever able to generate any wealth was in equity in our homes.  Imagine what they contributed then and what they could’ve contributed all these years.  Imagine a thriving Greenwood in North Tulsa for the last hundred years, what that would’ve meant for all of Tulsa, including the white community.
 
While the people of Greenwood rebuilt again in the years after the massacre, it didn’t last.  Eventually neighborhoods were redlined on maps, locking Black Tulsa out of homeownerships.  (Applause.)  A highway was built right through the heart of the community.  Lisa, I was talking about our west side — what 95 did to it after we were occupied by the military, after Dr. King was murdered.  The community — cutting off Black families and businesses from jobs and opportunity.  Chronic underinvestment from state and federal governments denied Greenwood even just a chance at rebuilding.  (Applause.)
 
We must find the courage to change the things we know we can change.  That’s what Vice President Harris and I are focused on, along with our entire administration, including our Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Marcia Fudge, who is here today.  (Applause.)
 
Because today, we’re announcing two expanded efforts targeted toward Black wealth creation that will also help the entire community.  The first is: My administration has launched an aggressive effort to combat racial discrimination in housing.  That includes everything from redlining to the cruel fact that a home owned by a Black family is too often appraised at a lower value than a similar home owned by a white family.  (Applause.)
 
And I might add — and I need help if you have an answer to this; I can’t figure this one out, Congressman Horsford.  But if you live in a Black community and there’s another one on the other side of the highway — it’s a white community; it’s the — built by the same builder, and you have a better driving record than they guy with the same car in the white community, you’re — can pay more for your auto insurance. 
 
Shockingly, the percentage of Black American homeownership is lower today in America than when the Fair Housing Act was passed more than 50 years ago.  Lower today.  That’s wrong.  And we’re committing to changing that.
 
Just imagine if instead of denying millions of Americans
the ability to own their own home and build generational wealth, we made it possible for them to buy a home and build equity into that — into that home and provide for their families.
 
Second, small businesses are the engines of our economy and the glue of our communities.  As President, my administration oversees hundreds of billions of dollars in federal contracts for everything from refurbishing decks of aircraft carriers, to installing railings in federal buildings, to professional services.
 
We have a thing called — I won’t go into it all because there’s not enough time now.  But I’m determined to use every taxpayer’s dollar that is assigned to me to spend, going to American companies and American workers to build American products.   And as part of that, I’m going to increase the share of the dollars the federal government spends to small, disadvantaged businesses, including Black and brown small businesses.
 
Right now, it calls for 10 percent; I’m going to move that to 15 percent of every dollar spent will be spent (inaudible).  (Applause.)  I have the authority to do that. 
 
Just imagine if, instead of denying millions of entrepreneurs the ability to access capital and contracting, we made it possible to take their dreams to the marketplace to create jobs and invest in our communities.
 
That — the data shows young Black entrepreneurs are just as capable of succeeding, given the chance, as white entrepreneurs are.  But they don’t have lawyers.  They don’t have — they — they don’t have accountants, but they have great ideas. 
 
Does anyone doubt this whole nation would be better off from the investments those people make?  And I promise you, that’s why I set up the — a national Small Business Administration that’s much broader.  Because they’re going to get those loans.  
 
Instead of consigning millions of American children to under-resourced schools, let’s give each and every child, three and four years old, access to school — not daycare, school.  (Applause.)
 
In the last 10 years, studies have been done by all the great universities.  It shows that, if increased by 56 percent, the possibility of a child — no matter what background they come from; no matter what — if they start school at three years old, they have a 56 percent chance of going all through all 12 years without any trouble and being able to do well, and a chance to learn and grow and thrive in a school and throughout their lives.
 
And let’s unlock more than — an incredible creativity and innovation that will come from the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities.  (Applause.)  I have a $5 billion program giving them the resources to invest in research centers and laboratories and high-demand fields to compete for the good-paying jobs in industries like — of the future, like cybersecurity.
 
The reason why they don’t — their — their students are equally able to learn as well, and get the good-paying job that start at 90- and 100,000 bucks.  But they don’t have — they don’t have the back — they don’t have the money to provide and build those laboratories.  So, guess what?  They’re going to get the money to build those laboratories.  (Applause.) 
 
So, instead of just talking about infrastructure, let’s get about the business of actually rebuilding roads and highways, filling the sidewalks and cracks, installing streetlights and high-speed Internet, creating space — space to live and work and play safely.
 
Let’s ensure access to healthcare, clean water, clean air, nearby grocery stores — stock the fresh vegetables and food that — (applause) — in fact, deal with — I mean, these are all things we can do.
 
Does anyone doubt this whole nation would be better off with these investments?  The rich will be just as well off.  The middle class will do better, and everybody will do better.  It’s about good-paying jobs, financial stability, and being able to build some generational wealth.  It’s about economic growth for our country and outcompeting the rest of the world, which is now outcompeting us.
 

President Joe Biden in Tulsa: I’m going to fight like heck with every tool at my disposal” to pass voting rights legislation © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via MSNBC.

But just as fundamental as any of these investments I’ve discussed — this may be the most fundamental: the right to vote.  (Applause.)  The right to vote.  (Applause.)
 
A lot of the members of the Black Caucus knew John Lewis better than I did, but I knew him.  On his deathbed, like many, I called John, to speak to him.  But all John wanted to do was talk about how I was doing.  He died, I think, about 25 hours later. 

But you know what John said?  He called the right to vote “precious,” “almost sacred.”  He said, “The most powerful nonviolent tool we have in a democratic society”.
 
This sacred right is under assault with an incredible intensity like I’ve never seen — even though I got started as a public defender and a civil rights lawyer — with an intensity and an aggressiveness that we have not seen in a long, long time. 
 
It’s simply un-American.  It is not, however, sadly, unprecedented.  The creed “We Shall Overcome” is a longtime mainstay of the Civil Rights Movement, as Jesse Jackson can tell you better than anybody.
 
The obstacle to progress that have to be overcome are a constant challenge.  We saw it in the ‘60s, but with the current assault, it’s not just an echo of a distant history. 
 
In 2020, we faced a tireless assault on the right to vote: restrictive laws, lawsuits, threats of intimidation, voter purges, and more.  We resolved to overcome it all, and we did.  More Americans voted in the last election than any — in the midst of a pandemic — than any election in American history.  (Applause.) 
 
You got voters registered.  You got voters to the polls.  The rule of law held.  Democracy prevailed.  We overcame. 
 
But today, let me be unequivocal: I’ve been engaged in this work my whole career, and we’re going to be ramping up our efforts to overcome again. 
 
I will have more to say about this at a later date — the truly unprecedented assault on our democracy, an effort to replace nonpartisan election administrators and to intimidate those charged with tallying and reporting the election results. 
 
But today, as for the act of voting itself, I urge voting rights groups in this country to begin to redouble their efforts now to register and educate voters.
  (Applause.) 
 
June should be a month of action on Capitol Hill.  I hear all the folks on TV saying, “Why doesn’t Biden get this done?”  Well, because Biden only has a majority of, effectively, four votes in the House and a tie in the Senate, with two members of the Senate who vote more with my Republican friends. 
 
But we’re not giving up.  Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed For the People Act to protect our democracy.  The Senate will take it up later this month, and I’m going to fight like heck with every tool at my disposal for its passage.
 
The House is also working on the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which is — which is critical — (applause) — to providing new legal tools to combat the new assault on the right to vote. 
 
To signify the importance of our efforts, today I’m asking Vice President Harris to help these efforts and lead them, among her many other responsibilities. 
 
With her leadership and your support, we’re going to overcome again, I promise you.  But it’s going to take a hell of a lot of work.
  (Applause.)
 
And finally, we have to — and finally, we must address what remains the stain on the soul of America.  What happened in Greenwood was an act of hate and domestic terrorism with a through line that exists today still. 
 
Just close your eyes and remember what you saw in Charlottesville four years ago on television.  Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, the KKK coming out of those fields at night in Virginia with lighted torches — the veins bulging on their — as they were screaming.  Remember?  Just close your eyes and picture what it was.
 
Well, Mother Fletcher said when she saw the insurrection at the Capitol on January the 9th [6th], it broke her heart — a mob of violent white extremists — thugs.  Said it reminded her what happened here in Greenwood 100 years ago.
 
Look around at the various hate crimes against Asian Americans and Jewish Americans.  Hate that never goes away.  Hate only hides.
 
Jesse, I think I mentioned this to you.  I thought, after you guys pushed through, with Dr. King, the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act — I thought we moved.  But what I didn’t realize — I thought we had made enormous progress, and I was so proud to be a little part of it. 
 
But you know what, Rev?  I didn’t realize hate is never defeated; it only hides.  It hides.  And given a little bit of oxygen — just a little bit oxygen — by its leaders, it comes out of there from under the rock like it was happening again, as if it never went away. 
 
And so, folks, we can’t — we must not give hate a safe harbor. 
 
As I said in my address to the joint session of Congress: According to the intelligence community, terrorism from white supremacy is the most lethal threat to the homeland today.  Not ISIS, not al Qaeda — white supremacists.  (Applause.)  That’s not me; that’s the intelligence community under both Trump and under my administration. 
 
Two weeks ago, I signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which the House had passed and the Senate.  My administration will soon lay out our broader strategy to counter domestic terrorism and the violence driven by the most heinous hate crimes and other forms of bigotry. 
 
But I’m going to close where I started.  To Mother Randle, Mother Fletcher, Mr. Van Ellis, to the descendants, and to all survivors: Thank you.  Thank you for giving me the honor of being able to spend some time with you earlier today.  Thank you for your courage.  Thank you for your commitment.  And thank your children, and your grandchildren, and your unc- — and your nieces and your nephews. 
 
To see and learn from you is a gift — a genuine gift.  Dr. John Hope Franklin, one of America’s greatest historians — Tulsa’s proud son, whose father was a Greenwood survivor — said, and I quote, “Whatever you do, it must be done in the spirit of goodwill and mutual respect and even love.  How else can we overcome the past and be worthy of our forebearers and face the future with confidence and with hope?”
 
On this sacred and solemn day, may we find that distinctly Greenwood spirit that defines the American spirit — the spirit that gives me so much confidence and hope for the future; that helps us see, face to face; a spirit that helps us know fully who we are and who we can be as a people and as a nation.
 
I’ve never been more optimistic about the future than I am today.  I mean that.
  And the reason is because of this new generation of young people.  They’re the best educated, they’re the least prejudiced, the most open generation in American history. 
 
And although I have no scientific basis of what I’m about to say, but those of you who are over 50 — how often did you ever see — how often did you ever see advertisements on television with Black and white couples?  Not a joke. 
 
I challenge you — find today, when you turn on the stations — sit on one station for two hours.  And I don’t know how many commercials you’ll see — eight to five — two to three out of five have mixed-race couples in them.  That’s not by accident.  They’re selling soap, man.  (Laughter.)  Not a joke. 
 
Remember ol’ Pat Caddell?  He used to say, “You want to know what’s happening in American culture?  Watch advertising, because they want to sell what they have.” 
 
We have hope in folks like you, honey.  I really mean it.  We have hope.  But we’ve got to give them support.  We have got to give them the backbone to do what we know has to be done.  Because I doubt whether any of you would be here if you didn’t care deeply about this.  You sure in the devil didn’t come to hear me speak.  (Laughter.) 
 
But I really mean it.  I really mean it.  Let’s not give up, man.  Let’s not give up. 
 
As the old saying goes, “Hope springs eternal.”  I know we’ve talked a lot about famous people, but I’m — my colleagues in the Senate used to kid me because I was always quoting Irish poets.  They think I did it because I’m Irish.  They think I did it because we Irish — we have a little chip on our shoulder.  A little bit, sometimes. 
 
That’s not why I did it; I did it because they’re the best poets in the world.  (Laughter.)  You can smile, it’s okay.  It’s true. 
 
There was a famous poet who wrote a poem called “The Cure at Troy” — Seamus Heaney.  And there is a stanza in it that I think is the definition of what I think should be our call today for young people. 
 
It said, “History teaches us not to hope on this side of the grave, but then, once in a lifetime, the longed-for tidal wave of justice rises up, and hope and history rhyme.” 
 
Let’s make it rhyme.  Thank you.

See also:

Biden Uses Occasion of Tulsa Massacre Centennial to Advance Economic Justice Agenda

Biden Administration Launches Multi-Agency Effort to Support Renters, Landlords as CDC Extends Federal Eviction Moratorium

Following today’s announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of a 90-day extension of the federal eviction moratorium, the Biden-Harris Administration is continuing its efforts to support tenants and landlords during the COVID-19 pandemic © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Here’s what a functioning, responsive government looks like. This is detail on the Biden administration’s multi-agency effort to support renters and landlords from the White House:

Today’s action by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to extend the federal eviction moratorium represents the latest effort to provide relief to renters and landlords.

Following today’s announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of a 90-day extension of the federal eviction moratorium, the Biden-Harris Administration is continuing its efforts to support tenants and landlords during the COVID-19 pandemic. Federal agencies including the Treasury Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are coordinating efforts to get tenants and landlords the assistance they need during the public health crisis.

President Biden entered office facing twin crises of historic proportions: a global pandemic and an economic downturn that left 10 million people out of work and one in five renters behind on rent. On January 29th, just days after President Biden entered office, the CDC extended the existing eviction moratorium through the end of March, recognizing the historic threat to our nation’s health. Alongside the extension, the Administration continued to seek relief for struggling Americans. $25 billion had been allocated to rental assistance under the CARES Act, and the Biden-Harris Administration worked quickly to streamline and simplify the rules to access funding. The American Rescue Plan, signed into law by President Biden, will deliver an additional $21.5 billion in emergency rental assistance to help millions of families keep up on rent and remain in their homes.

President Biden remains committed to implementing a whole-of-government approach to addressing the nation’s housing challenges. The White House American Rescue Plan Coordinator is working across agencies and with White House offices to implement the American Rescue Plan’s housing provisions. And, Treasury, HUD, USDA, CFPB and the FTC are upholding that commitment through the following actions to maximize the impact of the extension and additional funding in the American Rescue Plan:

 Treasury

  • The Treasury Department is in the process of delivering $1,400 Economic Impact Payments (EIP) to approximately 85% of American households, including those who may be behind on rent or at threat of eviction. More than 100 million EIPs have already been delivered.
  • The Treasury Department continues to administer the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) to assist households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to the passage of the ARP, an additional $21.5 billion is available, almost doubling in size the scale and reach of this program and providing greater relief to our most vulnerable households.
  • Rental assistance is being distributed by the Treasury Department to state and local grantees. Renters and landlords seeking access to rental assistance should apply directly to the local program in their area. More information on the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, including eligibility requirements, can be found here.
  • The Treasury Department recently updated guidance on the ERAP, providing grantees greater flexibility in determining renter eligibility.
  • The Treasury Department is administering funding to cover costs borne by state and local governments that have stepped in during the crisis to provide housing assistance and relief to Americans across the country. These critical measures taken to blunt the impacts of the economic fallout from the pandemic will no longer be a strain on the balance sheets of American municipalities.

HUD

  • HUD will reach out to HUD grantees, including tens of thousands of local governments and housing providers, and other program participants to communicate about the eviction moratorium extension and will offer guidance and support where needed.
  • HUD will continue to coordinate across federal agencies to efficiently implement emergency rental assistance programs that prevent evictions and ensure financial stability of renters and rental properties (including programs from HUD, Treasury, and HHS’s Administration for Children and Families).  
  • HUD will continue to support CDC in developing strategies for monitoring and evaluating the impacts of the eviction moratorium.
  • HUD will continue its responsibilities in upholding the Fair Housing Act and will monitor and address circumstances where landlords are evicting tenants because of race, color, religion, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), disability, familial status, or national origin. If tenants feel like they have experienced discriminatory treatment, they can contact HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (Relay). Tenants can also file discrimination complaints online at hud.gov/fairhousing.

USDA 

  • USDA will send a notice to 7,000 property owners in its multifamily portfolio to inform them of their obligations under the extended CDC Eviction Moratorium. USDA will also require property owners to post the extension at their properties along with a template of the original moratorium letters. These actions follow USDA’s outreach to 400,000 tenants to share information on the protections provided under the CDC Eviction Moratorium as well as information on how to access the U.S Treasury’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).

CFPB

  • Tenants can learn about their eviction and debt collection rights and how to get help with housing costs at www.consumerfinance.gov/renters.
  • The CFPB is taking complaints from tenants about problems with debt collectors, including attorneys seeking to evict tenants in violation of the CDC eviction moratorium. Consumers can submit a complaint at www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/ or by calling (855) 411-2372
  • The CFPB will monitor and investigate eviction practices to ensure that companies are complying with the law. Evicting tenants in violation of the CDC, state, or local moratoria, or threatening to evict them without apprising them of their legal rights under such moratoria, may violate the law.

FTC

  • The FTC will be monitoring and investigating eviction practices to ensure that companies are complying with the law. Evicting tenants in violation of the CDC, state, or local moratoria, or threatening to evict them without apprising them of their legal rights under such moratoria, may violate the law.

Biden Calls For An Emergency Housing Package to Save Millions from Eviction, Foreclosure

For Trump and the Republicans, the likely rise in homelessness because of mass evictions and foreclosures as a result of the economic collapse due to the coronavirus is another tool of voter suppression. Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president, is calling for an Emergency Housing Package (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president, calls out Trump and the Republicans for sitting by as 20 million Americans who have lost their jobs as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, now face eviction from their apartments, foreclosure from their homes (Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin made a fortune foreclosing on people in the 2008 Great Recession). The impacts of this collapse of family finances will follow for the rest of their lives, effectively canceling out the American Dream, if families can survive at all. I would submit what seems “merely”callous and indifferent to the suffering of so many is intentional. It is yet another tool in the Trump and Republicans’ campaign to suppress votes by likely Democratic voters – the more misery the better, but also, these voters can be challenged at the polls as no longer living where they were registered and unable to receive a vote-by-mail.

In contrast, Trump has elevated housing – fair housing – into another bullhorn call-out to his base. Just as he has done to sabotage Obamacare in the midst of a pandemic, he has rolled back an Obama-era rule – Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing — that required local governments provide fair housing in order to receive federal housing funds. Trump tweet-gloated, not even bothering to code his meaning about who he was appealing to and why: “I am happy to inform all the people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream that you will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built inyour neighborhood…Your housing prices will go up based on the market, and crime will go down. I have rescinded the Obama-Biden AFFH Rule. Enjoy!”

This is a statement from Vice President Biden on what a functioning federal response to such widespread homelessness should be: pass an emergency housing relief package –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Today is the first day of another month where rent and mortgage payments are due for millions of Americans who are already living on the edge. It comes a day after President Trump and Leader McConnell sent the Senate home for the weekend and allowed enhanced unemployment insurance, which millions of families have been using to pay their rent and bills, to lapse. And, the day after, we found out the last three months have been the worst period for our economy in recorded history. Hundreds of thousands of small businesses have shut their doors, with minority entrepreneurs especially hard hit. More than 30 million Americans are struggling to get by as their unemployment benefits are about to get sharply cut. Over the next two months, with no federal eviction moratorium in place, as many as 20 million families could find themselves out in the street without a safe place to live.
 
Because Donald Trump is abdicating his responsibility to lead us out of the pandemic crisis and the economic crisis, we now face a potential housing crisis across the country.
 
To prevent a catastrophic rise in evictions and homelessness, President Trump must work with Congress to act swiftly and enact a broad emergency housing support program for renters, just as we would in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Such a step would get help out quickly and at scale so that millions of people aren’t evicted or forced to choose between rent and food. Congress must also provide emergency unemployment benefits, greater access to food and nutrition programs, and full subsidies to allow families to keep their health insurance, so that the loss of one family member’s job doesn’t push the family into foreclosure and on the streets. This legislation must also include the fiscal relief necessary so state and local governments can keep on payroll the first responders, public school educators, and other public servants who ensure our cities and towns are clean, safe, and running.
 
Combined, these steps could put the nation in a much stronger position to handle the strain the virus is putting on millions of Americans and our entire economy. They are among many others we must take.
 
But we need a President to care, lead, and act.

Democratic Candidates for 2020: Biden Releases Plan for ‘Investing in Our Communities through Housing’

Vice President Joe Biden, running for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president, has released his plan for investing in communities through housing, “a right, not a privilege.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Vice President Joe Biden has released his plan for investing in communities through housing, “a right, not a privilege.” This is from the Biden Campaign:

Joe Biden is running for President to rebuild the middle class and ensure that this time everyone comes along. He believes the middle class isn’t a number, but a value set which includes the ability to own your own home and live in a safe community. Housing should be a right, not a privilege.
 
Today, however, far too many Americans lack access to affordable and quality housing. Nationwide, we have a shortage of available, affordable housing units for low-income individuals. Tens of millions of Americans spend more than 30% of their income on housing – leaving them with nowhere near enough money left over to meet other needs, from groceries to prescription drugs. And, tens of millions of Americans live in homes that endanger their health and safety.
 
Communities of color are disproportionately impacted by the failures in our housing markets, with homeownership rates for Black and Latino individuals falling far below the rate for white individuals. Because home ownership is how many families save and build wealth, these racial disparities in home ownership contribute to the racial wealth gap. It is far past time to put an end to systemic housing discrimination and other contributors to this disparity.
 
As President, Joe Biden will invest $640 billion over 10 years so every American has access to housing that is affordable, stable, safe and healthy, accessible, energy efficient and resilient, and located near good schools and with a reasonable commute to their jobs. Biden will do this by:

Ending redlining and other discriminatory and unfair practices in the housing market.

Providing financial assistance to help hard-working Americans buy or rent safe, quality housing, including down payment assistance through a refundable and advanceable tax credit and fully funding federal rental assistance.

Increasing the supply, lowering the cost, and improving the quality of housing, including through investments in resilience, energy efficiency, and accessibility of homes.

Pursuing a comprehensive approach to ending homelessness. 

Housing is an essential part of Biden’s broader strategy to grow strong, healthy communities in every zip code – from his plan to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure and revitalize local economies to his plan to invest in our public schools.
 

The Biden Principles for Housing
 
While the housing challenges Americans face in different rural and urban communities across the country may vary, every American in every zip code should have access to housing that is: affordable – taking up no more than 30% of income so they have money left over to meet other needs; stable – providing families with the consistency they need to maintain jobs, perform well in school, and develop social networks necessary for well-being; safe and healthy – protecting families from environmental and social risks from polluted air to lead contamination to gun violence; accessible – meeting the needs of individuals with disabilities so they can live in their communities; energy efficient and resilient – reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and withstanding the impacts of climate change; and located near good schools and with a reasonable commute to their jobs.

 
END REDLINING AND OTHER DISCRIMINATORY AND UNFAIR PRACTICES IN THE HOUSING MARKET

Protect homeowners and renters from abusive lenders and landlords through a new Homeowner and Renter Bill of Rights. Modeled on the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, Biden will enact legislation to end many shortcomings in the mortgage and rental markets. This new Bill of Rights will prevent mortgage brokers from leading borrowers into loans that cost more than appropriate, prevent mortgage servicers from advancing a foreclosure when the homeowner is in the process of receiving a loan modification, give homeowners a private right of action to seek financial redress from mortgage lenders and servicers that violate these protections, and give borrowers the right to a timely notification on the status of their loan modifications and to be able to appeal modification denials. Building on the Obama-Biden Administration’s Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act, the Bill of Rights will also expand protections for renters. For example, the Bill of Rights will include a law prohibiting landlords from discriminating against renters receiving federal housing benefits. 

Protect tenants from eviction. Housing evictions can have devastating consequences for families and often stem from relatively small shortfalls in rent. As a former public defender, Biden appreciates the difference legal representation can make for those facing eviction. As President, he will work to enact Majority Whip James E. Clyburn and Senator Michael Bennet’s Legal Assistance to Prevent Evictions Act of 2020, which will help tenants facing eviction access legal assistance. He also will encourage localities to create eviction diversion programs, including mediation, payment plans, and financial literacy education programs.

Eliminate local and state housing regulations that perpetuate discrimination. Exclusionary zoning has for decades been strategically used to keep people of color and low-income families out of certain communities. As President, Biden will enact legislation requiring any state receiving federal dollars through the Community Development Block Grants or Surface Transportation Block Grants to develop a strategy for inclusionary zoning, as proposed in the HOME Act of 2019 by Majority Whip Clyburn and Senator Cory Booker. Biden will also invest $300 million in Local Housing Policy Grants to give states and localities the technical assistance and planning support they need to eliminate exclusionary zoning policies and other local regulations that contribute to sprawl.

Hold financial institutions accountable for discriminatory practices in the housing market. The Obama-Biden Administration held major national financial institutions accountable for discriminatory lending practices, securing hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements to help borrowers who had been harmed by their practices. And in 2013, the Obama-Biden Administration codified a long-standing, court-supported view that lending practices that have a discriminatory effect can be challenged even if discrimination was not explicit. But now the Trump Administration is seeking to gut this disparate impact standard by significantly increasing the burden of proof for those claiming discrimination. In the Biden Administration, this change will be reversed to ensure financial institutions are held accountable for serving all customers.

Strengthen and expand the Community Reinvestment Act to ensure that our nation’s bank and non-bank financial services institutions are serving all communities. The Community Reinvestment Act currently regulates banks, but does little to ensure that “fintechs” and non-bank lenders are providing responsible access to all members of the community. On top of that gap, the Trump Administration is proposing to weaken the law by allowing lenders to receive a passing rating even if the lenders are excluding many neighborhoods and borrowers. Biden will expand the Community Reinvestment Act to apply to mortgage and insurance companies, to add a requirement for financial services institutions to provide a statement outlining their commitment to the public interest, and, importantly, to close loopholes that would allow these institutions to avoid lending and investing in all of the communities they serve.

Roll back Trump Administration policies gutting fair lending and fair housing protections for homeowners. Biden will implement the Obama-Biden Administration’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule requiring communities receiving certain federal funding to proactively examine housing patterns and identify and address policies that have a discriminatory effect. The Trump Administration suspended this rule in 2018. Biden will ensure effective and rigorous enforcement of the Fair Housing Act and the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. And, he will reinstate the federal risk-sharing program which has helped secure financing for thousands of affordable rental housing units in partnership with housing finance agencies.  

Restore the federal government’s power to enforce settlements against discriminatory lenders. The Trump Administration has stripped the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity, a division of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, of its power to enforce settlements against lenders found to have discriminated against borrowers – for example by charging significantly higher interest rates for people of color than white individuals. Biden will return power to the division so it can protect consumers from discrimination.

Tackle racial bias that leads to homes in communities of color being assessed by appraisers below their fair value. Housing in communities primarily comprised of people of color is valued at tens of thousands of dollars below majority-white communities even when all other factors are the same, contributing to the racial wealth gap. To counteract this racial bias, Biden will establish a national standard for housing appraisals that ensures appraisers have adequate training and a full appreciation for neighborhoods and do not hold implicit biases because of a lack of community understanding. An objective national standard for appraisals will also make it harder for financial institutions to put pressure on appraisers to their benefit.

PROVIDE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO HELP HARD-WORKING AMERICANS BUY OR RENT QUALITY HOUSING

Help families buy their first homes and build wealth by creating a new refundable, advanceable tax credit of up to $15,000. Biden’s new First Down Payment Tax Credit will help families offset the costs of homebuying and help millions of families lay down roots for the first time. Building off of a temporary tax credit expanded as part of the Recovery Act, this tax credit will be permanent and advanceable, meaning that homebuyers receive the tax credit when they make the purchase instead of waiting to receive the assistance when they file taxes the following year.

Provide Section 8 housing vouchers to every eligible family so that no one has to pay more than 30% of their income for rental housing. Roughly three in four households eligible for Section 8 rental assistance do not receive housing assistance because the program is underfunded. Biden’s approach is straightforward: the Section 8 rental housing assistance program should be fully funded so that everyone eligible gets the assistance they need to pay their rent for a safe home. Biden will devote resources to both voucher-based rental assistance and the project-based program. Over time, this approach will provide assistance to at least 17 million low-income families. And, as part of the Homeowner and Renter Bill of Rights, Biden will enact a law prohibiting landlords from discriminating against renters receiving federal housing benefits. 

Create a new renter’s tax credit to help more low-income families. Biden will work with Congress to enact a new renter’s tax credit, designed to reduce rent and utilities to 30% of income for low-income individuals and families who may make too much money to qualify for a Section 8 voucher but still struggle to pay their rent. He will allocate $5 billion in federal funding for the tax credit every year.

Expand housing benefits for first-responders, public school educators, and other public and national service workers who commit to living in persistently impoverished communities or who work in neighborhoods with low affordable housing stock. Biden will expand the Good Neighbor Next Door program, which is designed to help strengthen communities that have experienced significant underinvestment and high rates of poverty while also providing opportunities for first responders, educators, and those engaged in national service to purchase homes in those same communities. Specifically, Biden will expand the program through additional down-payment assistance, partnering with state housing agencies, tribal governments, local governments, and state/local banks to offer the program’s existing significant discount on the price of a home on a larger pool of homes, and providing access to a low-interest loan to rehabilitate these homes. And, he will ensure these resources are also available to public servants who work in neighborhoods with low affordable housing stock.

Create the Public Credit Reporting Agency. Being able to obtain a credit report is a critical step for homeownership. But today credit reports, which are issued by just three large private companies, are rife with problems: they often contain errors, they leave many credit invisible due to the sources used to generate a credit score, and they contribute to racial disparities. Biden will create a new public credit reporting agency within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to provide consumers with a government option that seeks to minimize racial disparities, for example by ensuring the algorithms used for credit scoring don’t have a discriminatory impact, and by accepting non-traditional sources of data like rental history and utility bills to establish credit.

Reducing Greenhouse Gases and Lowering Working Families’ Electricity Bills
 
As Biden announced in his climate plan, he will set a target of reducing the carbon footprint of the U.S. building stock 50% by 2035, creating incentives for deep retrofits that combine appliance electrification, efficiency, and on-site clean power generation. In addition to the $10 billion retrofitting fund described below, other policies he will pursue to reduce the carbon footprint of residential buildings include: Directing the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to make housing for low-income communities more efficient. Directing the U.S. Department of Energy to redouble efforts to accelerate new efficiency standards for household appliances and equipment. Repairing and accelerating the building code process, and creating a new funding mechanism for states and cities to adopt strict building codes and train builders and inspectors.  Read Biden’s full plan to address the climate emergency at joebiden.com/climate.

 
INCREASE THE SUPPLY, LOWER THE COST, AND IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF HOUSING

Establish a $100 billion Affordable Housing Fund to construct and upgrade affordable housing.

$65 billion in new incentives for state housing authorities and the Indian Housing Block Grant program to construct or rehabilitate low-cost, efficient, resilient, and accessible housing in areas where affordable housing is in short supply. These funds will be directed toward communities that are suffering from an affordability crisis and that are willing to implement new zoning laws that encourage more affordable housing.

$10 billion to make homes more energy efficient. This retrofitting will lower families’ energy bills, create jobs for workers in the trades in every state in the nation, and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

$5 billion to increase the stock of affordable housing as part of larger community development efforts. Specifically, these funds will expand the HOME program, ensuring that the program’s requirements are more conducive to supporting first-time homebuyers, and the Capital Magnet Fund, which spurs private investment in affordable housing and economic development in distressed communities. Among other uses, localities can use these funds to purchase vacant, underdeveloped, or underutilized property and construct affordable housing.

Increase funding for the Housing Trust Fund by $20 billion. Biden will increase the availability of affordable housing through the Housing Trust Fund, paid for by an increase in the assessment on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These additional dollars will support the construction and rehabilitation of affordable housing units.  

Provide tax incentives for the construction of more affordable housing in communities that need it most. As President, Biden will expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit – a tax provision designed to incentivize the construction or rehabilitation of affordable housing for low-income tenants that has created nearly 3 million affordable housing units since the mid-1980s – with a $10 billion investment. This investment will be designed to make the credit more efficient, dramatically increasing the number of new or rehabilitated affordable housing units. And, he will ensure that urban, suburban, and rural areas all benefit from the credit. Biden will also invest in the development and rehabilitation of single family homes across distressed urban, suburban, and rural neighborhoods through the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act.

Invest in community development. In addition to the community development Biden is proposing as part of his infrastructure initiative, he will also expand flexible funding for the Community Development Block Grant by $10 billion over ten years. The Community Development Block Grant funds local efforts to expand affordable housing, improve infrastructure, and increase economic opportunities for low-income individuals and communities. These funds are flexible federal grants that localities receive to deal with their specific challenges and support stabilization and infrastructure.

Eliminate local and state housing regulations that limit affordable housing options and contribute to urban sprawl. Housing policy can be used as a tool to battle climate change. Many lower- and middle-income Americans are forced to live far away from job centers due to high housing costs, leading not only to workers being overburdened by long commutes and transportation costs, but also to higher greenhouse gas emissions. Biden will tie new federal investments in housing to a requirement that states and localities eliminate regulations that reduce the availability of affordable housing and contribute to sprawl. He will direct his Secretaries of Housing and Urban Development and Transportation to identify existing federal grant programs that can be amended by adding zoning reform as a requirement. And, Biden will expand investments in Local Housing Policy Grants to give states and localities the technical assistance and planning support they need to modernize housing regulations.

Ensure minority-owned businesses benefit from investment in housing construction and repair. To further support wealth creation among Black and Latino families, Biden will require his Administration to take all available steps to make sure minority-owned businesses are able to benefit from ongoing and new federal housing and infrastructure spending.

Use federal transit dollars to leverage local investment in transit and affordable housing
 
Smart transit and regional planning policies are essential for ensuring access to affordable housing, avoiding sprawl, improving quality of life by reducing the distance between living and leisure areas, and mitigating climate change. To meet these goals, Biden will ensure a portion of new federal transit dollars are designed to leverage local investment in both transit and affordable housing in transit corridors. Biden has proposed the following new transit investments: Offer tens of millions of Americans new transportation options. Outside major cities, most Americans do not have access to high-quality, reliable public transportation; and within urban areas, it’s often in need of repair. As a result, workers and families rely on cars, which can be a big financial burden, clog roadways, and –  along with light-duty trucks – significantly increase U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. As President, Biden will aim to provide all Americans in municipalities of more than 100,000 people with quality public transportation by 2030. To that end, he’ll increase flexible federal investments, helping cities and towns to install light rail networks and to improve existing transit and bus lines. He’ll also help them to invest in infrastructure for pedestrians, cyclists, and riders of e-scooters and other micro-mobility vehicles. And, Biden will work to make sure that new, fast-growing areas are designed and built with public transit in mind. Specifically, he will create a new program that gives rapidly expanding communities the resources to build in public transit options from the start. Reduce congestion by working with metropolitan regions to plan smarter growth. Biden will empower city, county, regional, and state leaders to explore new, smarter, climate-friendly strategies to help reduce average commute times and build more vibrant main streets. Specifically, Biden will create a competitive grant program to help leaders rethink and redesign regional transportation systems, to get commuters where they are going safer, faster, and more efficiently. At the same time, Biden will boost highway funding by 10% and allocate the new funding to states that embrace smart climate design and pollution reduction, incentivizing them to invest in greenhouse gas reduction. States will also be free to use existing highway funding for alternative transportation options. Connect workers to jobs. For too many low-income workers, the cost of transportation and time it takes them to commute to work every day are significant barriers. As President, Biden will dedicate an additional $10 billion over 10 years specifically for transit projects that serve high-poverty areas with limited transportation options, so that workers seeking a better life won’t have to spend as much getting to their jobs.  Read Biden’s full infrastructure plan at joebiden.com/infrastructure.

Ensure rural communities have access to affordable and accessible homes. The Biden Administration will increase funding for needed repairs of affordable rental housing properties and construction of new property through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service, including the Multi-Family Direct Loans and the Single Family Direct Loans programs, which support the construction of housing for low income, disabled, or elderly individuals in rural communities. Majority Whip Clyburn’s 10-20-30 plan has already been applied to a number of Rural Development programs in order to ensure a portion of funds are dedicated to serving families living in areas facing persistent poverty. As President, Biden will apply the 10-20-30 plan to all federal programs.

Expand funding for mission-driven, community-based financial institutions that invest in building new housing in underserved areas. As part of his plan to reinvest in communities across the country, including in rural areas, Biden will expand funding for the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, which supports local, “mission-driven” financial institutions in low-income areas around the U.S. – including those invested in building new housing in underserved areas.

Drive additional capital into low-income communities to spur the development of low-income housing. The New Markets Tax Credit has drawn in $8 of private investment for every $1 of federal investment in low-income communities by providing tax credits to investors in community development organizations that support everything from supermarkets to real estate projects to manufacturing plants. Biden will expand the program to provide $5 billion in support every year, and will make the program permanent so communities can take the credit into account in their long-term planning.

For all of these new housing investments, those receiving assistance will be required to abide by Davis-Bacon Act wage requirements so that jobs created with these investments support family sustaining wages and benefits. And, the Biden Administration will encourage the use of resources and materials that are sourced domestically, as well as the use of project labor agreements.
 

Guarantee safe housing for our military families
 
The government has broken its trust with military families by providing sub-par housing. Now, we have to work twice as hard to rebuild this trust. That will require the utmost transparency and accountability from both the government and the private sector partners charged with housing the families of our service members. The Biden Administration will: Enforce a comprehensive and standardized tenant Bill of Rights for all military families, and as advocates have rightly demanded, ensure U.S. Department of Defense senior leadership enforces compliance. We won’t be making more empty promises to military families. We will hold these landlords, and ourselves, accountable. Require regular, standardized, objective, and published reporting of military family satisfaction and concerns from all housing. Establish a public-facing document outlining expectations of quality and consequences for all housing providers and, when necessary, terminate long-term leases held by private companies.  
Read Biden’s full plan for military families at joebiden.com/militaryfamilies.

 
PURSUE A COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH TO ENDING HOMELESSNESS

Develop a national strategy for making housing a right for all. Biden believes everyone should have the right to a safe roof over their head. On the first day of his Administration, he will direct his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to lead a task force of mayors and other local elected officials to put on his desk within 100 days a roadmap for making this right a reality nationwide. Mayors and local elected officials are on the front lines of tackling homelessness, so Biden will use their expertise to help the federal government identify best practices that should be replicated across the country.

Provide emergency funding designed to tackle the homelessness crisis. Biden will work with Congress to secure passage of Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ Ending Homelessness Act. This bill funds a comprehensive, holistic strategy to ending homelessness, including everything from case management to emergency shelters to additional housing vouchers for homeless individuals. In total, this law will invest $13 billion to tackle homelessness over five years, including $5 billion for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants, and the law will create more than 400,000 additional housing units for homeless individuals. In addition, Biden will ensure part of this grant funding is specifically targeted to assist homeless children and young adults.

Reform federal housing programs to ensure they take a “housing first” approach to ending homelessness. The Trump Administration has demonstrated acceptance of a worldview that housing and food should be withheld until homeless individuals tackle challenges such as addiction and mental illness. This view isn’t just inhumane, it defies the evidence regarding what works. More and more evidence is making clear that a “housing first” approach – “guided by the belief that people need basic necessities like food and a place to live before attending to anything less critical, such as getting a job, budgeting properly, or attending to substance use issues” – is an effective strategy for reducing homelessness. So, while the Biden Administration will pursue a comprehensive strategy addressing homelessness’ underlying causes – from making sure everyone has access to quality mental health and addiction support, to increasing the minimum wage and expanding workforce training, to changing the culture so more LGBTQ teenagers are accepted in their homes – President Biden will make sure our country commits to a “housing first” approach to ending homelessness. In his first 100 days, Biden will direct his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to conduct a full review of federal housing policies to make sure they pursue and incentivize the “housing first” approach. The Secretary will identify all ways in which homelessness assistance grants can further support rapid re-housing and long-term supportive housing. Supportive housing has been found to have positive long-term impacts, and rapid re-housing has been shown to lead to quick exits from homelessness.

Reduce homelessness among veterans. The Obama-Biden Administration cut the population of homeless veterans by almost half. But with just over 23,000 veterans without shelter on any given night, we have much more work to do. Biden will work with Congress to continue to drive down veteran homelessness by permanently authorizing the Supportive Services for Veterans Families program, which provides critical funding for wrap-around services for those facing homelessness. President Biden will also work to ensure that we better understand the unique needs of women and LGBTQ veterans experiencing homelessness. And, he will create safe, modern, clean, and recovery-oriented housing for veterans being treated for substance use disorders and those who are homeless by refurbishing buildings condemned or not in use, such as the massive VA Los Angeles campus. Read Biden’s full plan to support our veterans at joebiden.com/veterans.

Protect LGBTQ individuals. The Obama-Biden Administration enforced the civil rights of the LGBTQ community, including by ensuring federally funded homeless shelters provide housing according to an individual’s gender identity and cannot refuse services based on gender identity or sexual orientation. The Trump Administration has since proposed allowing shelters to discriminate against transgender people when determining their accommodations, for example by forcing transgender women to sleep and use the bathroom in the same place as men. As President, Biden will secure the passage of the Equality Act, ensuring that no President can ever again single-handedly roll back civil rights protections for LGBTQ individuals, including in housing and homeless shelters. And, he will increase funding for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act to ensure LGBTQ individuals have access to transitional living programs that provide essential services like job counseling and mental and physical health care.

Expand access to supportive housing and services for individuals with disabilities and the elderly. A Biden Administration will increase the availability of supportive and accessible housing for seniors and individuals with disabilities, including through the Supportive Housing for the Elderly (“Section 202”) and Supportive Housing for Individuals with Disabilities (“Section 811”) programs. Biden also will increase resources for mental health services and substance use disorder treatment, including through the Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness program.

Set a national goal of ensuring 100% of formerly incarcerated individuals have housing upon reentry. If incarcerated individuals do not find housing upon reentry, that lack of housing can be completely destabilizing and limit their likelihood of successfully staying out of the criminal justice system and fulfilling their potential. Biden will work toward a goal of ensuring 100% of formerly incarcerated individuals – at the federal and state level – have housing upon release. He’ll start by eliminating barriers keeping formerly incarcerated individuals from accessing public assistance, including housing support. He’ll direct the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to only contract with entities that are open to housing individuals looking for a second chance. And, he’ll expand funding for transitional housing, which has been drastically cut under the Trump Administration.

Ensure survivors of domestic and sexual violence have safe, affordable housing
 
Biden has put forward a comprehensive plan to strengthen social supports for survivors of domestic and sexual violence and human trafficking, including helping victims secure housing, gain economic stability, and recover from the trauma of abuse. The U.S. Conference of Mayors has identified domestic violence as a top driver of family homelessness, and research points to domestic violence as a key cause of homelessness for many women. And, domestic violence survivors and their children often live in unstable housing conditions, such as with relatives or friends in crowded and potentially exploitative conditions or returning to abusive partners. Research demonstrates that providing flexibility in eligibility, services, and support helps survivors feel safer and rebuild their lives after violence.
 
The Biden plan will cut through the red tape that can slow down assistance and limit options for survivors. Specifically, Biden will: Establish a new coordinated housing initiative. Current federal housing programs are insufficient for meeting the needs of domestic and sexual violence survivors. Biden will bring federal agencies together to create a comprehensive housing grant program tailored to survivors of domestic and sexual violence. This grant program will include flexible funding to support the practical needs of survivors; advocacy with landlords and housing agencies to keep victims in housing; supportive services including legal assistance, child care, and employment training; new permanent housing vouchers; increased funding for the VAWA transitional housing program; and home ownership opportunities. Expand access to housing assistance. Biden will strengthen the VAWA housing provisions, for example by making it easier for victims to retain their federal housing subsidy when needed for safety reasons. Protect survivors from housing discrimination. The Fair Housing Act protects women from gender discrimination in public and private housing, including survivors who may be unfairly evicted from housing because of domestic violence. The Trump Administration proposed rolling back Fair Housing protections by making it harder to prove disparate impact claims and allowing landlords and banks to use discriminatory practices. The Biden Administration will vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act. VAWA also protects survivors from discrimination in subsidized housing and allows survivors to transfer to new units if necessary for safety. But red tape makes these provisions challenging to implement. The Biden plan will make it easier for survivors to transfer their housing assistance and move to a new home so that they can be safe.  
Read Biden’s full plan to end violence against women at joebiden.com/VAWA.

 
Investing In Our Housing to Grow the Middle Class, Paid for by Making Sure Corporations Pay Their Fair Share
 
Biden’s $640 billion investment in America’s housing is paid for by raising taxes on corporations and large financial institutions. Specifically, approximately $300 billion of the housing plan is devoted to new construction and is encompassed in the $1.3 trillion infrastructure plan. The remaining portion is paid for by instituting a financial fee on certain liabilities of firms with over $50 billion in assets.

Democratic Candidates for 2020: Senator Bernie Sanders Releases ‘Housing for All’ Plan

Senator Bernie Sanders, campaigning for president, released a “Housing for All” plan, costing $2.5 trillion over the next decade, paid for by establishing a wealth tax on the top one-tenth of one percent  © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Bernie Sanders released his Housing for All” plan.  This is a summary from the Sanders campaign:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled his Housing for All plan, a bold proposal to guarantee every American – regardless of income – a fundamental right to a safe, decent, accessible, and affordable home. 

“There is virtually no place in America where a full-time minimum wage worker can afford a decent two bedroom apartment. At a time when half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck, this is unacceptable,” said Sen. Sanders. “For too long the federal government has ignored the extraordinary housing crisis in our country. That will end when I am president. My administration will be looking out for working families and tenants, not the billionaires who control Wall Street.”

In America today, there is a shortage of 7.4 million affordable homes for the lowest-income renters and more than 18 million families in America are paying more than half of their limited incomes on housing and utilities. The federal government should be expanding housing programs, but Donald Trump wants to cut them by $9.6 billion, or 18 percent.

Sanders’ Housing for All plan would instead end the housing crisis, build millions of affordable housing units, implement a national rent control standard, revitalize public housing, protect tenants, combat gentrification, end predatory lending and modern day redlining,  and end homelessness by:

Building nearly 10 million homes through the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund, social housing, Community Land Trusts, and other housing programs. 

Fully funding tenant-based Section 8 rental assistance at $410 billion over the next ten years and making it a mandatory funding program for all eligible households.

Enacting a national cap on annual rent increases at no more than 3 percent or 1.5 times the Consumer Price Index, whichever is higher, to help prevent the exploitation of tenants at the hands of private landlords.

Ending exclusionary and restrictive zoning ordinances and replacing them with zoning that encourages racial, economic, and disability integration that makes housing more affordable.

Doubling McKinney-Vento homelessness assistance grants to more than $26 billion over the next five years to build permanent supportive housing.

Ending the mass sale of mortgages to Wall Street vulture funds and thoroughly investigating and regulate the practices of large rental housing investors and owners.

Implementing legislation to prevent abusive “contract for deed” transactions and using existing authority to protect communities of color, which for too long have been exploited by this practice.

Sanders’ proposal will be fully paid for by establishing a wealth tax on the top one-tenth of one percent. It will cost $2.5 trillion over the next decade. 

The details of the Sanders housing plan can be read here.  

See also:

SANDERS, OCASIO-CORTEZ ANNOUNCE THE GREEN NEW DEAL FOR PUBLIC HOUSING ACT