Congress Holds Hearings on Homeownership

This article was written by Richa Goel, NAHRO’s Legislative Affairs Intern

With housing prices and rents skyrocketing, homeownership has become out of reach for many Americans, especially low-income and minority populations. On June 28th, the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing analyzing the impact of institutional investors on individual homeownership and rent prices.

Chairman Rep. Al Green (D-TX) opened the hearing by discussing predatory purchasing practices: “Private equity companies have bought up hundreds of thousands of single family homes and placed them on the rental market…these homes tend to be located in communities with significantly more families of color than the national average.

Five expert witnesses testified in front of the subcommittee, including:

  • Jim Baker, Executive Director, Private Equity Shareholder Project
  • Shad Bogany, Agent, Better Homes and Gardens
  • Sofia Lopez, Deputy Campaign Director of Housing, Action Center on Race and the Economy
  • Elora Lee Raymond, Assistant Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Jenny Schuetz, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institute

Baker, Lopez, and Raymond discussed the relationship between institutional investors acquiring single-family homes and increased rents and eviction filings. Bogany spoke about institutional investors targeting minority communities, charging high rent prices, and diminishing minority chances of homeownership. Schuetz highlighted the increasingly tight housing market, asserting that local zoning policies and regulations have hindered home building and driven high housing costs.

Democrats and Republicans disagreed on the causes and remedies for high housing costs. Ranking Member Rep. Tom Emmer and Rep. William Timmons (R-SC) emphasized inflation, accusing Democrats of using institutional investors as a scapegoat for policy and spending mistakes. In contrast, Rep. Nikema Williams (D-GA) and Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver (D-MO) emphasized the impact of institutional investment on minority communities. They advocated for closing the gap between investors and individuals in the homebuying process.

Continue reading