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Biden Proposes Expanded Aid For Housing, Crackdown On 'Price-Fixing' During State Of The Union

President Joe Biden asked a joint session of Congress during his State of the Union address to implement legislation that would address the affordability crisis plaguing the U.S. housing market. The president also announced a slate of initiatives aimed at expanding access to subsidized housing.

"I know the cost of housing is so important to you," Biden said. "If inflation keeps coming down, mortgage rates will come down too. I'm not waiting."

President Joe Biden during his 2024 State of the Union address.

In the meantime, Biden wants to pass a $400 monthly tax credit for first- and second-time homebuyers. He also proposed eliminating title insurance on federally backed mortgages.

Biden called on Congress to pass a federal budget for fiscal year 2025 and implement measures that together could pay to build and renovate more than 2 million affordable homes, according to a release from the administration.  

"We’ve cut red tape so more builders can get federal financing, which is already helping build a record 1.7 million new housing units nationwide," Biden said during the State of the Union. "Now pass and build and renovate 2 million affordable homes and bring those rents down."

Biden called for an expansion of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program that would build 1.2 million more affordable rental units, a boost equivalent to nearly half the 2.6 million existing LIHTC-financed units in the country now. A smaller expansion of LIHTC is before Congress now as part of the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act.

"It is clear after tonight that President Biden intends to make housing a top election priority," Council of Large Public Housing Authorities Executive Director Sunia Zaterman said in a statement. "We encourage President Biden to become the housing president by creating a comprehensive long-term plan for a sustainable future for public housing that would include the recapitalization of the public housing portfolio, permanent expansion of the Housing Choice Voucher program, and a cross-sector approach that includes housing, health, and education."

The president's plans would also task federal agencies with weeding out "egregious rent increases and other unfair practices that are driving up rents," according to a White House fact sheet. He also called for an end to superfluous renter fees.

The White House materials referenced the fact that the Department of Justice weighed in on a lawsuit accusing RealPage of rent-fixing. 

"For millions of renters, we’re cracking down on big landlords who break antitrust laws by price-fixing and driving up rents," Biden said during his speech.

A statement from the National Multifamily Housing Council said such accusations work against the administration's goals.

"Disparaging housing providers, the very people who can help create the needed housing, with unproven allegations of price fixing and fee inflation will not make housing more affordable and is counterproductive," the statement said. 

Biden advocated for expanded rental assistance to more than half a million households and voucher guarantees for both low-income veterans and young people aging out of foster care, a first for the program. 

The administration has also proposed that each Federal Home Loan Bank double its annual contribution to the Affordable Housing Program, from 10% of prior year net income to 20%, which would raise an additional $3.79B for affordable housing over the next decade, impacting an estimated 380,000 households.