Having an affordable place to call home is essential. That is why we will be joining over 700 Habitat advocates at our annual legislative conference, Habitat on the Hill, to virtually meet with lawmakers in Congress to push for affordable housing policies to benefit our communities.
Here’s what we will be asking for:
1. Invest in mortgage assistance for low-income homeowners at risk of foreclosure due to the pandemic.
COVID-19 has created economic hardship for families across the country. Many are unable to pay their mortgage and therefore at risk of foreclosure. Households are often forced to deplete their savings or use credit to make mortgage payments, which may have long-term financial consequences.
Homeowners with federally-backed mortgages have been protected by forbearance during the pandemic, meaning that payments are paused. However, this protection could expire as soon as April. To prevent foreclosures now, and when forbearance ends, we are asking for targeted mortgage payment and loan modification assistance. This will help low-income homeowners maintain economic stability and remain safely housed.
2. Support the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act.
This bill would provide resources for neighborhoods across the country where homes are in poor condition and property values are too low to support new construction or significant renovation. The lack of affordable, move-in ready homes makes it difficult to attract or retain homebuyers, causing property values to decline.
The Neighborhood Homes Investment Act (NHIA) will revitalize distressed neighborhoods by building new affordable homes and providing critical repairs for existing homes. By leveraging federal tax credits, the gap between the cost of building or renovating homes and the price at which they can be sold would be alleviated. This would make new home construction and renovation possible and make affordable homeownership more accessible.
3. Support vital housing and community development programs in the fiscal year 2022 budget.
Federal budget appropriations are critical to our work at Habitat Wake and affordable housing in general. Robust funding of the following programs means that we, and other Habitat affiliates across the nation, can partner with more homeowners and reach more families in need of affordable housing.
We are asking for the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP) to be funded at $20 million in the Transportation-HUD Appropriations bill for FY2022. SHOP promotes affordable homeownership by providing funds to housing developers, like Habitat, to purchase land or make infrastructure improvements. SHOP is the only HUD program that is exclusively intended for homeownership projects serving low-income families.
We are also advocating for the HOME Program to be funded with at least $1.7 billion to adequately support a wide range of affordable housing activities. HOME funds support Habitat’s work to repair, rehabilitate, or reconstruct owner-occupied housing, and also support land acquisition, infrastructure improvements, new construction, demolition, and down payment assistance.
Our last appropriations request is $2 billion for the USDA 502 Loan Program, which exclusively assists low and very-low income families living in rural areas, helping them secure safe, decent and affordable homes. Habitat affiliates across the country help connect homebuyers to this loan program to create access to homeownership.
Thank you for joining us in advocating for affordable housing!