Good afternoon everyone! I’m so glad to be here to speak with you about what we’re doing in my home state of Nevada and across the country to address affordable housing.
As all of you know, over the last several years, Congress has made a remarkable investment in housing. In the past two years alone, Nevada has received more federal funds to support affordable housing than it has ever had. And my state needed it. After the 2008 financial crisis, Nevada’s families lost jobs and homes. Lenders foreclosed on the homes of more than 219,000 families. We learned important lessons from that crisis. When COVID hit, I pushed for government action to help people pay their bills and stay in their homes. And you all were a key part of implementing this successful approach. I’m proud of our work to help stop foreclosures and evictions, to provide emergency rental assistance, and to make sure we expanded help for people at risk of homelessness.
When Congress passed the American Rescue Plan, we also included funds for rural housing, housing counseling, and fair housing. And we provided record levels of housing assistance, supportive services, and other investments for Tribal communities across the U.S. Many states, including Nevada, are using their state and local relief funds from the American Rescue Plan for affordable homes—at least 6,000 of them in my state alone.I was just at a ribbon cutting for an affordable housing complex that benefited from these funds, and I expect to be busy at a lot of future groundbreakings in the Silver State over the coming years.
Housing advocates, developers, and bankers like you are key in making these new homes a reality. There are communities that have some funding to build affordable housing now, and they need new partners. So those of you who look to finance affordable housing, look to help the Tribes, rural communities, and nonprofits that are taking on bigger projects now. We know that housing development is complex, with layers of financing.
Let’s leverage these funds Congress has delivered to build as many attractive and affordable homes as we can. And we also need to consider where we build them. I’m proud that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law included my legislation to align new transportation investments with investments that increase the supply of housing. This will make it easier for families to get from home to work to retail and recreation. You also are in a unique position to help Congress understand the impact of these historic investments in housing. Members of Congress need you to let us know what the impact of these federal dollars has been.
We want to hear your ideas on how to build on our successes in emergency rental assistance, eviction courts, zoning changes, rehabilitation, and new construction. We want to hear how changes to the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, an expanded Housing Trust Fund, new state housing programs, special purpose credit programs, and other innovations are working in communities. Learning and sharing lessons truly matters.
I know I can rely on the National Housing Conference and its members to provide thoughtful analysis of the impact of federal affordable housing investments. And I know I can rely on the National Housing Conference to urge us to continue to do more. While we’ve provided billions of funding for affordable housing, we are still not helping enough people find and keep safe and stable homes. That’s why I plan to reintroduce my housing bills in the next Congress.
That includes my pending HOME Investment Partnership Reauthorization Act to improve the HOME program. As you all know, HOME is a critical source of funding for safe, stable, and attractive places to call home for low-income seniors, families, and people with disabilities. I’ve also introduced a bill to improve two homeownership subsidies—the Mortgage Revenue Bond (MRB) and the Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC). Since those programs started, nearly 4 million working families have become homeowners for the first time, so I want to expand them. I have long thought that the Federal Home Loan Bank system can do more to provide affordable housing financing, and so I’m also going to reintroduce my Federal Home Loan Banks’ Mission Implementation Act. The bill helped spur the Federal Housing Finance Agency to conduct a comprehensive review.
I will continue to be active in working to improve how the Federal Home Loan Banks serve our communities, especially rural, Tribal, and communities of color. I encourage you to think creatively about how the Federal Home Loan Banks can meet housing and community development needs in their communities. And I will continue to lead efforts around fair housing, manufactured housing, and other issues as well. But none of my or my colleagues’ housing bills can advance without your help.
During this Congress, no standalone housing bills moved through the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. Not one. And that’s because no housing bill had support from Republicans on our Committee. Now, I relish working in a bipartisan way. I’ve had great success reaching across the aisle to work with my colleagues of both parties to pass legislation to improve health care, get more funds for law enforcement, and protect our public lands and natural resources. We can do the same thing when it comes to housing.
I support the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, led by Senators Cantwell, Wyden, Portman, and Young, and the Neighborhood Homes Investment Credit Act, led by Senators Cardin, Wyden, Portman, and Young. Both of those tax bills have bipartisan support. The bills my colleagues and I are working on are common sense and deserve bipartisan support. The Affordable Housing Program assessment of the Federal Home Loan Banks should be higher. Community Land Trusts should be able to use HOME funds. And experienced and knowledgeable nominees, like FHA Commissioner Julia Gordon, whom I know you heard from this morning, should get the approval of Senators from both parties .That’s where you come in. We need you to advocate in your community—to the public, press, and to your legislators.
Everyone should hear and see how the housing investments we have made since the pandemic are reducing evictions, building more affordable homes, and allowing Americans to become homeowners, including in communities of color.And everyone should hear about the importance of coming together to provide more vouchers and build more affordable homes. We’ve done so much, and we can’t stop here. I’m looking forward to continuing to partner with all of you as we work to make sure everyone in Nevada and across the country has a safe and stable home.
Remarks given by Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada at NHC’s 2022 Solutions for Affordable Housing Convening on Tuesday December 6,2022.