Housing is Infrastructure

Celebrating NAHREP familia, cultura, politics, and grassroots action

April 29, 2021

Qué onda mi gente?!

So, have you heard? 70% of all new homeowners over the next 20 years will be Latino. That’s a pretty big deal. If you haven’t memorized that data point yet, put it on a post on your computer or mirror, because it will be the foundation for our advocacy and our work. And if you haven’t done so already, download the latest State of Hispanic Homeownership Report!

This week we held a special session with Arizona Congressman Ruben Gallego who retold his experience about being inside of the capitol on January 6th when it was invaded. I’m still processing everything he told us. For one, Congressman Gallego is former military. When he saw the capitol get invaded he thought they were going to have to fight. Can you believe that?

Also, he said something I can’t stop thinking about. “In tough situations we always look to other people, expecting them to step up and be leaders. But what if we’re the leaders we’ve been waiting for? We have to step up to the challenge even if we’re afraid.” That was deep. He was speaking to all of us there. YOU are the leaders you’ve been waiting for.

NAC Call to Action: Housing is Infrastructure

Urge your representatives to pass the American Jobs Plan and ensure housing remains critical to infrastructure

Last week, we launched a critical campaign: The Housing is Infrastructure Campaign. We have an exciting opportunity to actually make a difference on increasing housing stock. Look, we can complain about housing inventory until we’re blue in the face, but that isn’t going to solve the issue. However, as we speak, members of congress (both Democrats and Republicans) are coming up with a big infrastructure package. We want to make sure that housing is a critical element of that package. Now is the time to take action.

As background, this is how major legislation works. Usually, the White House presents a proposal to Congress. Congress then takes that proposal and various members of Congress negotiate on what will and won’t be in the package. Usually there’s a Republican package and a Democrat package and the negotiation takes off from there.

The Biden Administration is proposing The American Jobs Plan

The American Jobs Plan is a $2.3 trillion investment in America that will create millions of good jobs, rebuild the country’s infrastructure, and position the United States to continue to compete globally. Public domestic investment as a share of the economy has fallen by more than 40 percent since the 1960s. The American Jobs Plan will invest in America in a way we have not invested since we built the interstate highways and won the Space Race. But unlike past major investments, the plan prioritizes addressing long-standing and persistent racial injustice.

Overall the package is meant to:

  • Fix highways, rebuild bridges, airports and transit systems.
  • Deliver clean drinking water, a renewed electric grid and high speed broadband to all Americans.
  • Revitalize manufacturing, secure U.S. supply chains, and train Americans for jobs for the future.

But most importantly, the American Jobs Plan includes the following housing goals: 

  1. Build, preserve and retrofit more than 2 million homes, investing $213 billion, to address the affordable housing crisis.
  2. Eliminate exclusionary zoning laws, such as minimum lot sizes, mandatory parking requirements, and prohibitions on multifamily housing.

Why is this important? 

Low housing inventory continues to be the number one barrier to advancing sustainable Hispanic homeownership, and it’s only gotten worse. Between 2019 and 2020, the number of homes for sale on the market dropped nearly 40 percent nationally and more than 50 percent in the top suburban areas where Latinos buy homes. While Latinos are expected to account for 70 percent of homeownership growth over the next 20 years, that can’t happen if we don’t solve our housing inventory crisis now.

So what’s going to happen?

Members of Congress are currently negotiating on what priorities will ultimately end up in this bill. That’s where we come in. NAHREP is urging our U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators to ensure that housing remains a critical part of any infrastructure package, because housing is infrastructure. Currently, the following bills are included in the proposal:

  • Housing Supply and Affordability Act would authorize a grant program for the development and implementation of housing supply and affordability plans.
  • The Neighborhood Investment Act would create a federal tax credit that covers the cost between building or renovating a home in certain areas and the price at which they can be sold.
  •  Yes in My Backyard (YIMBY) Act would encourage localities to advance policies that eliminate exclusionary zoning and artificial barriers to housing production.
  • Build More Housing Near Transit Act would encourage coordination between transit agencies and local governments to align transportation investment with land use and zoning policy, enabling more housing in transit-served areas.

By participating in NAHREP’s call to action, you can let your elected officials know that you want them to prioritize these bills during the negotiation. It takes less than one minute to take action, but it makes a big difference. Be the leader you were waiting for. Don’t wait for someone else to step up.

About Noerena Limón

Noerena Limón is NAHREP’s Executive Vice President of Public Policy and Industry Relations. Noerena heads the organization’s policy and advocacy efforts on issues ranging from homeownership, housing inventory, credit access and immigration.

Prior to joining NAHREP, Noerena spent six years at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and served as a political appointee under President Obama in the White House Office of Political Affairs.