The Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) along with The New York State Fair Housing Network and 27 other New York organizations and advocates today strongly urged Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer to ensure that significant housing investment funds are included in the reconciliation legislation he is currently negotiating in the Senate. The groups note that, among many other positives, addressing skyrocketing housing costs could help stabilize inflation.
In an open letter to the senator, the groups argue that skyrocketing housing costs are overwhelming New Yorkers and all Americans, and lawmakers must deliver housing investments that provide relief to communities in need. Investing in these priorities will allow families to better manage the growing financial pressures that every household is facing while also addressing rampant inflation, according to the letter, and any effort to stabilize the inflation families are experiencing that does not address the nation’s skyrocketing housing costs will fall short of the legislation’s promise.
The letter was signed by organizations throughout the state to demonstrate that support for housing investments is widespread and crosses socio-economic and urban-rural lines.
Senate Leader Schumer has been a staunch supporter of fair housing and affordable housing, but the New York organizations fear lawmakers will miss this rare opportunity to address the long-standing housing affordability crisis which has now become a drain on the economy and a major driver of rising inflation.
Housing costs pose acute problems for many New Yorkers. The cost of buying a home in New York State has risen more than 35% in the last year, putting homeownership out of reach for many. At the same time, rents have risen 18% across the state, and more than half of all renters spend more than 30% of their income on housing. The problem is even worse in New York City, where rents have risen 33% and the average monthly rent in Manhattan has reached $4,000. In rural and urban communities alike, the average family is spending 33.8% of their monthly budget on housing costs.
The groups describe the reconciliation package as a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity, and they want it to include:
- Funding for local fair housing enforcement to ensure fairness in the housing market and the necessary resources to fight housing discrimination, a clear barrier to housing and neighborhood opportunity for communities of color, people with disabilities, and families with children;
- First generation down payment assistance to begin to close the nation’s racial homeownership and wealth gaps and help New Yorkers of color build family wealth;
- Support for the rehabilitation of distressed homes sitting vacant in communities across the nation through the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act;
- A significant expansion of rental assistance; and
- Housing Trust Fund investments to build and preserve critically needed affordable housing units.
Time is running out and negotiators may finalize a reconciliation package shortly after Congress’s scheduled return from the holiday recess. No timetable for votes has been set.
The mission of the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC), a nonprofit civil rights organization, is to eliminate housing discrimination; promote policies and programs that foster open, accessible, and inclusive communities; and strengthen enforcement of fair housing laws in the New York City region.