August 18,2021

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Nicole L'Esperance/Ashley Schapitl

Wyden Announces New Bill to End Homelessness and Ensure Affordable Housing for All

Bill would house all children and families experiencing homelessness through Housing Choice Vouchers, expand essential services to ensure permanent housing stability, create new down payment tax credit for first-time homebuyers, and expand the production of affordable housing for low-income and middle-income families

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today announced the Decent, Affordable, Safe Housing for All (DASH) Act, legislation to make a generational investment to house all people experiencing homelessness, tackle the housing affordability crisis, and expand homeownership opportunities for young people by creating a new down payment tax credit for first-time homebuyers.  

“Housing is a human right. Yet, millions of Americans pay more than half of their monthly take-home pay to keep a roof over their head. And more than half a million Americans don't have housing at all,” Wyden said. “America is amidst a serious crisis of housing affordability, and it's a big challenge that demands big, bold solutions. As housing prices skyrocket, a generation of young people are increasingly locked out of homeownership. It’s time America’s lawmakers get with the program and enact 21st century housing policies that adequately address 21st century challenges.”

Americans were experiencing a crisis of housing availability and affordability long before the COVID-19 pandemic swamped our economy. The lack of affordable housing directly contributes to the moral scourge of homelessness highly visible in coastal states. According to the best available data, the United States is suffering a shortage of nearly 8 million units of affordable and available units for the lowest-income renters, as the country hasn’t built sufficient housing for decades. On top of that, as many as 15 million households in America spend more than 50 percent of their take-home pay on rent each month, putting them at risk of financial ruin with just one emergency or missed paycheck. Finally, at least 550,000 Americans were homeless on any given night in 2020. As the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to reverberate, and millions of Americans who lost their incomes due to COVID-19 continue to be at risk of losing their housing, significant federal resources must be committed to make housing more affordable, stable and available for those most at risk.

Wyden's DASH Act would make stable, safe and decent housing available for all by:

  • Housing everyone experiencing homelessness within five years, and prioritizing children and families for placement, by issuing them a Housing Choice Voucher, because young children are heavily impacted by housing instability, and because housing is a chief determinant of health;
  • Expanding health, child care, financial and nutrition services for families and individuals to stay on a path to unassisted housing stability, because the climb out of housing poverty is nearly impossible to complete alone;
  • Greatly increasing the production of deeply affordable housing for families exiting homelessness and for low-income households by investing in effective, efficient existing programs and reforming the tax code to strengthen the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) to weather the economic fallout from the pandemic, as well as establish a Renter's Tax Credit and Middle-Income Housing Tax Credit (MIHTC);
  • Investing in homeownership in underserved communities and for low income Americans with new tax credits and down payment assistance, including a down payment tax credit for first-time homebuyers; and
  • Incentivizing environmentally-friendly development strategies and land use policies.

Text of the bill is available here.

A summary of the bill is available here.

A section-by-section summary of the bill is available here.