NAHREP Virtual Capitol Hill Visits

Celebrating NAHREP familia, cultura, politics, and grassroots action

April 28, 2022

Qué onda mi gente?!

This week the NAHREP familia took Congress by storm, meeting with a total of 53 U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators, 20 of which are member meetings. That means an actual Member of Congress joined almost half of our meetings! This is probably the most member meetings we’ve had since I joined NAHREP. This is a testament, I believe, to the work we’ve been doing at the National Advocacy Committee to increase our footprint and relationships in Congress. Your voices matter. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, we can complain all day long or we can use our voices and experiences to put pressure on the individuals who can actually do something about the problem.

So, if any of you are wondering what we’re asking Members of Congress to do, here is a breakdown of the bills we’re asking them to support.

Overall, we’re asking the Federal Government to use the following strategies to tackle the low supply of housing inventory:

  1. Use a stick to get cities and municipalities to create more housing: In politics, they say you use the carrot or the stick to get folks to do something. Think of it in terms of training pets. If your pet does a good job, they get a carrot – or a reward. When they do something bad, they get a stick. Our current problem is that we need to incentivize cities to ease zoning restrictions and come up with robust plans for addressing their housing shortages. At NAHREP, we believe that local NIMBYism is so strong that unless there’s a stick, such as cities losing federal transportation funding or Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding, they’re not actually going to do anything about the issue. With a carrot, cities that are already addressing their housing issues will be rewarded, but without a stick, the cities that really need to get their act together are never going to budge.
  2. We need a new trade deal with Canada: The cost of lumber has been on the rise. We need to renegotiate lumber and tariff policies with our existing Canada-U.S. trade deal in order to ensure that we lower the costs of lumber and increase the supply coming to the U.S.
  3. Immigration is economic policy: We have to pass immigration reform in order to address the construction labor shortage. An overwhelming majority of homebuilders are reporting labor shortages, the highest on record. But, immigration can help solve for this issue. 25 percent of construction workers are foreign-born, the highest of any industry. Restrictive immigration policies have only made the labor shortage worse.

NAHREP is asking for Congressional support on the following bills:

Housing Supply and Affordability Act: This policy creates new grants administered by HUD. These would be a “race to the top” competitive grants that would be awarded to municipalities with the best-proposed plans to address their housing shortages. Preference would be given to regional coalitions and to those that do the best job at preventing displacement.

The Neighborhood Homes Investment Act: Based on the Low-Income House Tax Credit, this program would revitalize neighborhoods with federal income tax credits, mobilizing private investment to build and rehabilitate homes for lower-and middle-income homeowners. The bill would support 500,000 homes over the course of 10 years. The tax credits would cover the gap between development costs and sales prices.

Yes in My Backyard (YIMBY) Act: The YIMBY Act would require Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) recipients to report periodically on the extent to which they are removing discriminatory land-use policies and implementing inclusive and affordable housing policies. The YIMBY Act:

  • Increases transparency in land use, zoning, and housing decisions
  • Sheds light on exclusionary policies
  • Encourages localities to eliminate barriers to much-needed housing
  • Provides a framework for smart policymaking and regulatory practices

Increasing funding for HOME Investment Partnerships Program: NAHREP is asking Congress to provide additional funding for this existing program to increase housing production. The program provides grants to states and localities, often in partnership with local nonprofit groups, to fund a wide range of activities including building, buying, and/or rehabilitating affordable housing for rent or homeownership.

Downpayment Toward Equity Act of 2021: This bill would create the only federal down payment assistance program geared toward first-generation, first-time homebuyers of up to $20,000. It would also provide up to $25,000 for socially and economically disadvantaged homebuyers.

Low-income First-Time Homebuyer (LIFT) Act of 2021: The LIFT Act would establish a HUD program to sponsor low fixed-rate 20- year mortgages for first-time, first-generation homebuyers who have incomes equal to or less than 120% of their area median income.

  • Working through Ginnie Mae, the Treasury would subsidize the interest rate and origination fees associated with these 20-year mortgages so that the monthly payment would be in line with a new 30-year mortgage.
  • This will allow qualified homebuyers to build equity, and wealth, at twice the rate of a conventional 30-year mortgage.

Ping me if you all have some questions! We got this.

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.