Senate Democrats this week unveiled a $ 3.5 trillion social infrastructure framework that would include down payment assistance, but nothing more to address the challenges low-income and minority borrowers face in the market housing.
The framework would set aside $ 332 billion for affordable housing. Senate Democrats hope to pass the legislation through an abbreviated budget process known as reconciliation, in tandem with the $ 1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package, which passed the Senate Tuesday. Biden has said he will only sign the bipartisan effort if the $ 3.5 trillion package, which includes much of his agenda, is also passed.
But so far, the proposal contains few ambitious new programs to tackle the problems in the housing market. In addition to down payment assistance, there is no proposal to close the racial gap in homeownership. Nothing in the proposal would save the country’s aging housing stock, nor train a fleet of building trades people to renovate inefficient homes. There is no program that makes low-value mortgages meaningful to those who finance them, and no funding to create a Home Buyer’s Bond.
Most of the programs in the $ 3.5 trillion framework are for tenants, not landlords. The biggest exception is the down payment assistance, which President Joe Biden campaigned on and which proponents of housing affordability say would help further homeownership.
The Senate version is light on the details, but a legislative proposal already exists in the House of Representatives. In July, California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, proposed a $ 100 billion down payment assistance bill to provide up to $ 25,000 to first-time homebuyers.