Senator John Kerry (D-MA) today joined his colleagues Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Pete Domenici (R-NM), and Charles Schumer (D-NY), in introducing legislation to establish a National Affordable Housing Trust Fund (NHTF), which will address the serious housing needs of millions of households.
"Affordable housing that working people can count on isn't just part of the American Dream, it's good for education, healthcare, jobs, and community building. Helping to provide clean, safe, affordable housing is a measurement of our values, and a test of whether government has its priorities in the right place," said Senator John Kerry. "This is the year we need to finally get the government back on the side of people trying to make ends meet and provide for their families, and that means we need to do our part to help people put a roof over their heads."
"Improving the availability of reasonable housing is a priority. I'm pleased to support this legislation, and I expect that it will help direct attention and resources toward ensuring that those who need it are able to attain viable housing situations for themselves and their families," said Senator Pete Domenici.
Senator Snowe said, "Affordable housing is scarce in Maine, as funding has been stagnate for many government programs designed to create housing for low income residents. The National Affordable Housing Trust Fund would provide another avenue of funding to create and rehabilitate additional affordable housing for those who need it the most, including those who are located in rural areas and on reservations. If fully funded, Maine would receive a minimum of $10 million in the first year alone for the development and rehabilitation of housing for those with extremely low-incomes. I urge my Senate colleagues to pass this critical legislation."
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said "In the richest country on the face of the earth it is simply unacceptable that millions of Americans are paying 50 to 60 percent of their limited incomes on housing. It is even worse that millions of others are sleeping in their cars or out on the street because they cannot afford a roof over their heads. Clearly, the passage of the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund is needed now more than ever. Not only would this legislation provide a serious solution to the affordable housing crisis, it would also lead to the creation of decent-paying jobs. I look forward to working with Senator Kerry and my other colleagues in the Senate to pass this important piece of legislation as quickly as possible."
"The National Housing Trust Fund is a dream that many low housing advocates have had for years. We are one step closer to the dream coming true with the introduction of the Kerry-Snowe bill to establish a national housing trust fund in the Senate today. The number of people who are homeless and the number of poor families who pay most of their income for their housing have been waiting too long for the federal government to get back in the business of building low cost rental home. Their wait will end when this bill is passed," said Sheila Crowley, President of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
The bill will establish a dedicated funding source for the production, preservation and rehabilitation of 1.5 million affordable homes in 10 years. At least 75% of the funds will be for housing for households that are extremely low income, earning less than 30% of an area's median income.
On October 10, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2895, the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund Act of 2007, by a strong bipartisan vote of 264-148. The bill was introduced by House Committee on Financial Services Chair Barney Frank (D-MA) with 16 bipartisan cosponsors on June 28. Passage was a huge victory for the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) Campaign. The Senate and House bills are nearly identical.
The need for a National Housing Trust Fund is well documented. Nationwide, there are only 6,187,000 homes renting at prices affordable to the 9,022,000 extremely low income renter households - a shortage of 2,835,000 homes. Not a single Congressional district has enough rental housing affordable and available to extremely low income families. Housing is considered affordable if it costs no more than 30% of household income.
Housing trust funds already have been established by more than 600 state and local governments and have proven to be a successful approach to funding affordable housing programs.
Senator Kerry introduced bills to establish a National Housing Trust Fund in the 106th, the 107th and the 108th Congresses. In addition, Senator Sanders championed similar legislation when he was a member of the House in the 107th and 108th Congresses.
More information about the National Housing Trust Fund Campaign can be found here: www.nhtf.org.