Cantwell, Bipartisan Senators Reintroduce Bill to Establish Housing Affordability Task Force

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Todd Young (R-IN), Angus King (I-ME), John Kennedy (R-LA), and Jon Tester (D-MN) reintroduced the Task Force on the Impact of the Affordable Housing Crisis Act, which aims to better understand and respond to America’s housing affordability crisis by creating a bipartisan housing task force. The task force would evaluate and quantify the impact of housing costs on other government programs, and provide recommendations to Congress on how to increase affordable housing options in order to improve life outcomes.

“We have an affordable housing crisis in the State of Washington and across the United States, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made this crisis worse. We must act. I know that we can work in a bipartisan basis to both stimulate our economy and solve the affordable housing crisis,” said Senator Cantwell.

Specifically, the task force will:

  • Evaluate and quantify the impact that a lack of affordable housing has on other areas of life and life outcomes for individuals living in the United States, including education, employment, income level, health, nutrition, access to transportation, and poverty level in the neighborhood in which individuals live, regional economic growth, and neighborhood and rural community stability and revitalization.
  • Evaluate and quantify the costs incurred by other Federal, State, and local programs due to a lack of affordable housing.
  • Make recommendations to Congress on how to use affordable housing to improve the effectiveness of other Federal programs and improve life outcomes for individuals living in the United States.

In recent years, Washington state has experienced a severe housing affordability crisis. Between 2006 and 2015, the median income in the state increased three percent, but the median rent increased by 18%. Nearly 230,000 Washington households pay more than half of their monthly income on rent. Among extremely low-income renters in the state, 68% pay half or more than half of their monthly income on rent.

These trends were further exacerbated by COVID-19, as thousands of Washingtonians faced a loss of work, while rent prices for affordable housing units mostly remained steady or even increased during the pandemic.

According to Harvard University’s State of the Nation’s Housing 2020 report, more than 30 percent of all households nationwide—37.1 million American households—spent more than 30 percent of their income on housing. More than 17 million of those households were “severely cost burdened,” spending more than half their income on housing. These statistics come at the same time the United States is facing a nationwide shortage of 6.8 million affordable rental homes.

Senator Cantwell is a leading voice in Congress to address the affordable housing crisis. In April, Cantwell introduced  Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2021 which would expand and strengthen the Low Income Housing Tax Credit to increase investment in affordable housing, build tens of thousands of new units across Washington state, and provide resources to at-risk groups. In December, Cantwell fought to include affordable housing provisions in the COVID relief bill. In June 2020, she introduced The Emergency Affordable Housing Act to support and strengthen the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and ensure affordable housing projects are not taken out of affordable use.

In 2019 she introduced the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act to expand and strengthen LIHTC and better serve at-risk-and underserved communities, and she joined housing advocates around Washington state and throughout the country in a push to improve and expand the credit. In 2018, Cantwell successfully secured a nearly $3 billion down payment toward addressing the affordable housing crisis, helping to build over 28,000 units and support an additional 32,000 jobs.

When the Task Force on the Impact of the Affordable Housing Crisis Act was first introduced in 2019, it earned the support of over 70 organizations. For a full list of supporters, click HERE.

For the full bill text, click HERE.