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Housing Relief a Central Focus of the American Rescue Plan Act

June 29, 2021  |  Article

 

Yogin Shroff, Senior Partner and Chief Operating Officer

The affordable housing crisis was exacerbated by COVID-19. What provisions does ARPA make to improve housing security among America’s most vulnerable?



The social determinants are fundamental to wellbeing, and housing security is a pillar among them. Those who are housing insecure are more likely to suffer mental health disorders and chronic illnesses, see greater hospital utilization and generally have higher overall cost of care. Marcia Fudge, Housing and Urban Development Secretary, puts the housing crisis in perspective – the COVID-19 pandemic created a ripple effect on housing, disproportionately affecting those in rural and low-income areas. In this light it comes as no surprise that the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that 14% of adult renters reported difficulty paying rent through the pandemic.1

While renters were most affected, homeowners were not insulated from the pandemic’s deteriorating housing effects. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports that the number of homeowners behind on their mortgage doubled since the pandemic came to America.2

WHAT IS ARPA’S ROLE IN ADDRESSING HOUSING INSECURITY?

ARPA includes 3 broad measures to address housing insecurity in America.

First, as the chart below indicates, the bill seeks housing sustainability via rental assistance, homelessness assistance and new rural housing options.3

Next, the bill includes $4.5 billion of aid to assist with heating and cooling costs.4

Finally and perhaps most significantly, the American Jobs Plan (considered by many to be an extension of ARPA) allocates $213 billion “for a wide variety of housing issues designed to help low-income households and home buyers on a tight budget.”5

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

Housing insecurity is correlated with poorer physical health, deteriorating mental health and stifled cognitive development. Moreover, it disproportionately affects low income and minority populations, bringing concern for racial disparity and health equity to the fore. The American Rescue Plan Act is an important first step on the road to slowing - and ultimately reversing - the evolving crisis.

REFERENCES

1 CBPP (2021) Tracking the COVID-19 Recession’s Effects on Food, Housing, and Employment Hardships. Retrieved from https://www.cbpp.org/research/poverty-and-inequality/tracking-the-covid-19-recessions-effects-on-food-housing-and

2 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (March 2021) Housing insecurity and the Covid-19 pandemic. Retrieved from https://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/cfpb_Housing_insecurity_and_the_COVID-19_pandemic.pdf

3 US Department of Housing and Urban Development (2021) FACT SHEET: Housing Provisions in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Retrieved from https://www.hud.gov/sites/dfiles/Main/documents/Factsheet_Housing_Provisions_American_Rescue_Plan_Act-2021.pdf

4 Rice, D, Oliva, A (2021, March 11) Housing Assistance in American Rescue Plan Act Will Prevent Millions of Evictions, Help People Experiencing Homelessness. Retrieved from https://www.cbpp.org/research/housing/housing-assistance-in-american-rescue-plan-act-will-prevent-millions-of-evictions

5 Campisi, N (2021, April 2) Biden’s Infrastructure Plan Earmarks $213 Billion for Housing. Here’s How He’d Spend It. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/advisor/mortgages/bidens-infrastructure-plan-earmarks-213-billion-for-housing-heres-how-hed-spend-it/

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