HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge and Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg testified this morning in a joint hearing on the American Jobs Plan for the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Titled “21st Century Communities: Expanding Opportunity Through Infrastructure Investments,” the joint hearing focused on how housing and transit work together to support communities and jobs, and the importance of housing as infrastructure.
In her testimony, Sec. Fudge focused on the ways that “yesterday’s lack of investment” is driving the affordable housing crisis through lack of supply of housing units and state of disrepair of existing housing units. She emphasized the different ways the American Jobs Plan (AJP) addresses these two issues, which includes $213 million to build 2 million new homes and $40 billion to repair existing public housing infrastructure.
In his testimony, Sec. Buttigieg highlighted how the relationship between housing and transit infrastructure impacts families who must choose between “living impossibly far from work to afford housing,” relying on aging transit systems in need of repair, or “paying more for housing than they can afford in order to have a reasonable commute.”
Both Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) separately asked about manufactured housing, and the potential for HUD to issue guidance on manufactured housing. Sen. Scott emphasized the importance of manufactured housing in disaster recovery his state, and Sen. Sinema focused on the importance of manufactured housing considering increased construction materials costs. Sec. Fudge said HUD had been preoccupied by COVID, but supports manufactured housing as resilient, energy efficient, and affordable, and should have guidance out by the end of the year.
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) asked about the lack of available senior housing, and how that might be a growing problem as the number of aging Americans significantly increases in the next decade. Sec. Fudge responded that many people forget a large percentage of public housing residents are seniors and need to be able to age in place, and that requires investing in Section 202.
Several senators also asked about landlord and community incentives to lease to voucher holders or to build new housing. Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) took the hearing as an opportunity to talk about his new bill with Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE). Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) asked about how the AJP currently addresses zoning, and how more targeted incentives could motivate local communities to address exclusionary zoning, bans on multifamily construction, and other barriers to more affordable housing.
You can watch the hearing here.
You can find the testimony of the witnesses here.