Political leaders from the East Coast and West Coast are fighting over a shrinking pie of federal housing funds in President Joe Biden’s proposed “Building Back Better” aid package.
Democrats in Washington are considering slashing in half the funds currently allocated to address a slew of housing issues in their “Build Back Better” package to $150 billion, according to the Los Angeles Times.
States address housing issues in vastly different ways, and representatives of each want the federal aid package cut up in ways to benefit their home constituencies.
The “Build Back Better” package divides aid into three main pools: public housing repair money, low-income housing vouchers and money to build affordable housing.
East Coast and Midwest cities, including New York and Chicago, are more heavily invested in public housing schemes as means of providing affordable housing.
They benefit the most from allocations of public housing repair dollars, which would likely be allocated to states by need. New York has public housing for 200,000 households statewide, compared with 27,000 in California.
Local jurisdictions in California and other states rely more on housing vouchers — which increase demand for homes but do not address the state’s shortage of housing, which has worsened in recent years.
Public housing households in New York would be eligible for vouchers, too — a circumstance that has some elected officials from other states suggesting cuts to funding for repairs of public housing instead of vouchers.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told the Los Angeles Times that favoring funds for repairs of public housing over vouchers “unintentionally discriminates in favor of the East Coast.”
“So if you’re in New York, you get the bulk of [public housing funding], and an equal share of [vouchers],” Garcetti said.
East Coast leaders including Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer are nonetheless lobbying to keep as much public housing repair assistance as possible.
Schumer has previously said he wants as much as $80 billion for public housing. Public housing in New York state alone is short $40 billion for repairs, and this bill is congressional Democrats’ only chance to put a big dent in that.
“There’s no universe in which the New York delegation can return to New York City without funding for public housing,” said Rep. Ritchie Torres, a Bronx Democrat who grew up in New York public housing.
[LAT] — Dennis Lynch