Nevada could still see investments in housing, expanded vouchers under reduced social spending bill

By: - November 12, 2021 5:05 pm
housing vista

(Photo: Ronda Churchill)

While initial housing provisions for the social spending plan known as the Build Back Better Act have been slashed, some recent estimates show the remaining investments could allocate nearly $150 million to Nevada to build and preserve affordable housing as well as provide thousands of new housing vouchers. 

In an email Friday, the Nevada Housing Coalition, a group that consists of non-profit organizations, social service providers, businesses and banks, called for the legislation to be passed and encouraged the state’s congressional delegation to ensure the housing components remain intact.  

“We applaud the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, but the housing provisions are not part of that bill. Instead they are part of the Build Back Better Act which is still awaiting a vote by Congress,” the Nevada Housing Coalition wrote. “These provisions would have a historical impact on providing meaningful increases in access and availability of affordable housing for all Nevadans.”

Over the summer, Senate Democrats proposed $3.5 trillion in spending over the next decade to combat climate change and invest in multiple programs and social services.  

During initial discussions, the House Financial Services Committee initially proposed $322 billion for housing, which included $90 billion in rental assistance expansion, $80 billion to preserve public housing and $37 billion to invest into the National Housing Trust Fund, which could build 330,000 affordable homes for the lowest incomes. 

A framework laid out in October by President Joe Biden reduced the bill’s size to $1.85 trillion over the next 10 years. 

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities wrote in a Nov. 4 analysis that while “the allocation for housing programs under the jurisdiction of the House Financial Services Committee declined to $150 billion” the legislation still includes “funding for critical housing vouchers that would reduce housing instability for about 300,000 households with the lowest incomes.”

With $24 billion allocated to Housing Choice Vouchers, the group estimated 2,900 households, which amounts to 6,400 people, could be served in Nevada. That also includes 2,700 children under 18, 1,200 people with disabilities and 600 for people 62 and older. 

Another report released by the group in July said the lack of vouchers has resulted in people statewide waiting on average 38 months, which is more than three years. 

The National Low Income Law Center also released an analysis in late October based on the inclusion of $15 billion to create or preserve more than 150,000 affordable homes to “households with extremely low incomes.”

Nevada, it estimated, could receive $148 million.

Lawmakers are expected to resume negotiations around the Build Back Better Act the week of Nov. 15. 

Since zero Senate or Congressional Republicans support the bill, Democrats have little margin of error for disagreement and must pass the legislation through the reconciliation process, a Senate procedure that shields them from a Republican filibuster. 

Key votes, Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema, have balked at the investment in social policies, leaving the legislation’s fate uncertain. 

While speaking at a tele-town hall Tuesday hosted by Battle Born Progress, U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and U.S. Rep. Susie Lee underscored the importance of passing the Build Back Better Act with investments for affordable housing.

“Even before the pandemic hit, there was a challenge with affordable housing,” Cortez Masto said. “So the work has been focused on how do we bring more resources to incentivize affordable housing, how do we support seniors and families in getting access to more affordable housing? In the Build Back Better Act, we are looking at adding more opportunities to address our affordable housing needs.”

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Michael Lyle
Michael Lyle

Michael Lyle (MJ to some) has been a journalist in Las Vegas for eight years. While he covers a range of topics from homelessness to the criminal justice system, he gravitates toward stories about race relations and LGBTQ issues.