Housing / Infrastructure

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This is a collaborative knowledge base; feel free to propose edits/additions that you believe are important for others to know. Contributions will be reviewed and approved based on quality and accuracy.

How You Can Resist
How You Can Resist
[edit]

  • Call your Senator by dialing tel:844-6-RESIST and tell them to vote to support the Senate Democrats' infrastructure bill.
  • Call your Members of Congress by dialing tel:844-6-RESIST and tell them not to cut funding for affordable housing, community development, or energy assistance.
  • Find out when your Senators and US Representative are holding town halls and other Upcoming Events/Opportunities. Show up and tell them to support the Senate Democrats' infrastructure bill.
  • Click People and Organizations to find an organization looking for volunteers.

Actions Taken by the Federal Government
Laws Proposed by Congress
[edit]

Legislation that Supports Equity and Justice

  • HR 1146 would require the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to establish a program to give grants to organizations to provide legal assistance to low-income families regarding housing disputes.
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  • HR 209 would improve HUD regulations on hazardous storage containers for housing safety.
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  • HR 915/S. 325 would permanently restore the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act 2009, which expired on December 31, 2014. The act protected tenants facing eviction by providing them adequate time to find alternative housing.
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  • HR 202 would amend the Fair Housing Act to make it illegal to discriminate against prospective tenants who hold Section 8 vouchers.
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Harmful Legislation

  • S 103 / HR 482 would end regulations designed to address the segregation created by redlining policies, and prohibit federal funds from being used for the HUD database that tracks racial disparities in access to housing.[7]
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See also the State and Local Pages for state-by-state legislative tracking.

Housing[edit]

Affordability of Housing[edit]

Housing costs are increasing in the US. Most low-income families in the country who rent homes spend more than half of their income on housing.[8] The median price of existing homes has risen to $282,000.[9] The number of existing homes that were sold for less than $100,000 dropped by 7% between May 2016 and May 2017.[10] Tax benefits for homeowners benefit the wealthy more than middle-class or low-income people.[11] Households making more than $100,000 a year receive more than 80% of the total value of mortgage interest and property-tax deductions.[12]

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides affordable housing and rental assistance. The US has 1.1 million public housing units. [13] Over 5 million low-income households receive rental assistance. [14]

One of HUD's programs provides Housing Choice Vouchers, which help very low-income families find safe, decent, and affordable rental housing.[15] These vouchers allow low-income families to avoid having to move as often. They also reduce the number of families that live in overcrowded housing, doubled up with other families, in shelters, or on the streets.[16] Vouchers improve children’s long-term chances for success, increasing their adult earnings and decreasing the likelihood of incarceration.[17]

Supportive housing combines vouchers with health care and other services. It has been shown to keep at least 75% of those who use it from returning to homelessness.[18] Vouchers and rental assistance help about 340,000 veteran families, many of whom live in supportive housing.[19] About 1.2 million additional supportive housing units are needed to serve people with histories of homelessness or institutionalization.[20]

The Low-Income Housing Credit is a federal tax credit that encourages long-term investment in affordable rental housing.[21] Trump's tax plan could cause a decrease in the amount investors are willing to put into low-income housing tax credits.[22] Click here for fact sheets on the impact of the Housing Credit in your congressional district.

The 2017 budget that the House and Senate agreed to increases funding for HUD,[23] but Trump's proposed budget for 2018 would cut funding for HUD by more than 13%. [24]

The Trump administration has not announced a plan to improve housing for rural homeowners who are struggling with affordability. Many such people voted for Trump.

Rural housing affordability.
Availability of affordable housing by state. [1]


Click here for maps showing affordability and availability of housing in your congressional district.

Community Development and Services[edit]

Community Development Block Grants fund health-care and child-care facilities and neighborhood rehabilitation and disaster relief programs, and provides public services for seniors, youth and the disabled, including programs like Meals on Wheels.[25] HUD also funds programs that focus on redeveloping low-income neighborhoods and promoting homeownership, including the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, the Choice Neighborhoods program, and the Self-help Homeownership Opportunity Program.[26]

The bill the House and Senate agreed upon increases Community Development block grant funding for 2017 [27] Trump's proposed budget for 2018 would completely eliminate the Community Development Block Grant, HOME Investment Partnerships , the Choice Neighborhoods, and the Self-help Homeownership Opportunity Programs. [28]

Discrimination in Housing[edit]

The Department of Housing and Urban Development manages low-income housing, facilitates financing for homeownership, and administers fair housing policies. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson has opposed existing protections against housing discrimination. [29] This is especially concerning given that the housing crisis of 2008 continues to impact communities of color.[30]

Given that Trump has been sued multiple times for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by not ensuring accessibility in his properties,[31] there is cause for concern that his administration will not ensure that affordable housing for people with disabilities is a priority.[32] These concerns are exacerbated by the fact that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has actively worked against protecting the rights of people with disabilities.[33]

Energy Assistance[edit]

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program assists low-income families with their home heating and cooling energy costs: bill payments, energy crisis assistance, weatherization and energy-related repairs.[34] The budget the House and Senate agreed upon will continue to fund energy assistance for low-income Americans.[35]

For more information about eligibility and applying for LIHEAP, please follow the link for more information.

Trump's proposed budget for 2018 would completely eliminate the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. [36]

Lead Paint[edit]

The EPA estimates that 38 million U.S. homes contain lead-based paint, which is harmful to children’s brain and nervous system development and can lead to permanent neurological damage and behavior disorders. [37] Lead poisoning greatly impacts low-income people and people of color. According to a CDC study, children affected are more likely to be poor and from racial/ethnic minority groups. [38] Between 1999 and 2004, black children were 1.6 times more likely to test positive for lead in their blood than white children and black children were nearly three times more likely than white children to have highly elevated blood-lead levels. [39] The 2017 budget agreed to by the House and Senate will only cut the EPA budget by 1% and not cut employees in the EPA.[40] Trump's proposed budget for 2018 would cut funding for the EPA by more than 31%. [41]

Infrastructure[edit]

Condition of US Infrastructure[edit]

The American Society of Civil Engineers released its 2017 "infrastructure report card," giving the nation's overall infrastructure a grade of D+. The ASCE projected that a total investment of $4.59 trillion would be required to bring infrastructure up to a B grade.[42] Aviation, dams, drinking water, inland waterways, levees, public parks, roads, schools, wastewater, transit, energy, and hazardous waste all received grades below C. [43]

Roads, Bridges, and Transportation[edit]

More than two out of every five miles of America’s urban interstates are congested. This cost the country $160 billion in wasted time and fuel in 2014. One out of every five miles of highway pavement is in poor condition. Traffic fatalities increased by 7% from 2014 to 2015, with 35,092 people dying on America’s roads. [44] Almost 40% of bridges in the US are 50 years or older and 9.1% of the nation’s bridges were structurally deficient in 2016, which means there are problems with their maintenance. On average, there were 188 million trips across a structurally deficient bridge each day. [45] There is an estimated $836 billion backlog for repairing existing highways and bridges.[46] The Federal Highway Administration estimates that each dollar spent on road, highway, and bridge improvements returns $5.20 in the form of decreased vehicle maintenance costs, shorter delays, reduced fuel consumption, better safety and reduced emissions.[47]

Road conditions by state. [2]
Structurally deficient bridges by state. [3]


U.S. airports serve more than two million passengers every day. Congestion at airports is getting worse and it is expected that 80% of the biggest US airports may soon have “Thanksgiving-peak traffic volume” at least one day per week. [48] The U.S. rail system carries over 30% of US exports, and delivers five million tons of freight and 85,000 passengers each day. The vast majority of the nation’s rail infrastructure is privately owned. [49] Public transportation in the US is expanding, with 10.5 billion trips in 2015. However, only 51% of US households report that they can get to a grocery store using public transportation. [50]

Accessibility of jobs by public transit in major cities. [4]


Policy Map has percentages of bridges that are structurally deficient in each congressional district. The American Public Transportation Association has information about access to rail lines and rural public transportation and bus replacement needs in each congressional district.

Drinking Water[edit]

90% of Americans get their drinking water from a public water system. [51] The EPA sets limits for contaminants in drinking water. Since 2012, 41 states reported higher than acceptable levels of lead in drinking water and 431 schools reported heightened levels of lead. [52] The Natural Resources Defense Council found that almost 30 million Americans had tap water with health-based violations in 2015. [53] According to the American Water Works Association, upgrading existing water systems to meet the needs of our growing population will require at least $1 trillion in funding. [54]

Counties with health-based water contamination. [5]


Energy[edit]

Most electric lines were constructed in the 1950s and 1960s with a 50-year life expectancy. Increased investment in energy infrastructure is necessary to avoid longer and more frequent power interruptions, and increasing storm and climate impacts. [55]

Schools[edit]

Almost 50 million K-12 students attend nearly 100,000 public school buildings. 24% of public school buildings were rated as being in fair or poor condition. School funding varies widely by state: 5 states pay for nearly all of their school construction costs, 12 states provide no direct support, and in the remaining states support varies. The federal government contributes little to no funding for the nation’s K-12 educational facilities. [56]

Waste[edit]

Americans annually generate about 258 million tons of municipal solid waste, of which approximately 53% is deposited in landfills. Currently, 35% of municipal solid waste is recycled and 13% is burned for energy production. [57] The US has 14,748 wastewater treatment plants. More than 56 million new users are expected to be connected to these treatment systems over the next two decades, requiring at least $271 billion in additional funding. While the federal government provides some funding, 95% of spending on water infrastructure is made at the local level. [58] More than half of the U.S. population lives within three miles of a hazardous waste site. Most funding for government-led Superfund cleanup sites comes from general revenues or special accounts funded through settlements with the parties responsible. The Superfund program has not had a budget increase since 2009. [59]

For information about your community, the EPA has maps showing hazardous waste cleanup sites in each congressional district.

Dams and Levees[edit]

There are 90,580 dams in the country and the average age is 56 years. The number of high-hazard potential dams is increasing, and was almost 15,500 in 2016. It is estimated that it will require nearly $45 billion in funding to repair aging, high-hazard potential dams. [60] 30,000 miles of levees protect an estimated $1.3 trillion in property. $80 billion of investment is needed in the next 10 years to maintain and improve the nation’s system of levees. In 2014 Congress passed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, established a nation-wide levee safety program, but the program has not yet received any funding. [61]

The 10 states most threatened by high-hazard dams [6]


Trump/GOP Agenda[edit]

Infrastructure Plan[edit]

During the campaign, Trump proposed an infrastructure plan that consisted of a massive tax break to corporations encouraging the construction of projects deemed profitable. [62] This would likely speed up approval for projects that are already planned or underway, rather than fulfilling infrastructure needs. This subsidizes investors, not projects, so there is no guarantee that these projects would prompt any new hiring.[63]

On April 4, 2017, in a meeting with business leaders, Trump said "we're talking about a very major infrastructure bill of a trillion dollars, perhaps even more." [64]

Trump's 2018 budget proposal includes $200 billion for infrastructure over 10 years. The plan did not include any details about where that money would be spent. [65] The rest of the promised $1 trillion would come through private investment. [66] The same budget proposal cuts funding for existing infrastructure programs at the Department of Transportation by more than 12 percent and the Army Corps of Engineers by more than 16 percent. According to Senate Democrats, the Trump budget actually is an overall cut to infrastructure programs, decreasing spending by $145 billion over 10 years. [67]

Trump's plan may encourage state and local governments to sell assets, such as airports and bridges, to pay for infrastructure work. This could lead to these private buyers charging the public fees or tolls. [68] Private businesses would prioritize infrastructure projects that are profitable, and have no incentive to focus on areas like wastewater treatment and drinking water. [69]

Trump has proposed privatizing the air traffic control system. This would transfer the job of tracking and guiding airplanes from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to a private corporation. [70] Most of the major commercial airlines support this plan. Privatizing air traffic control would give these airlines more control and could lead to higher fees for travelers. [71] Both corporate and general aviation pilots oppose the changes. Trump's plan would also give a corporate entity control of taxpayer-funded infrastructure for free. [72]

Trump has promised to include expanded access to broadband internet in rural areas in the infrastructure plan.[73]

Budget[edit]

The 2017 budget agreed to by the House and Senate increases funding for the Department of Transportation.[74] Trump's proposed budget for 2018 would cut funding for the Department of Transportation by 12.7%.[75] It would also eliminate the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program.[76] TIGER grants provide funding for transportation projects. [77]

Democrats’ Infrastructure Plan[edit]

Senate Democrats submitted a proposal that would spend $1 trillion on infrastructure over the next 10 years. This plan would devote $210 billion to repairing roads and bridges, $110 billion to local water and sewer systems, $180 billion to expanding bus and rail systems, $75 billion to rebuilding schools, $70 billion to ports, airports, and waterways, $20 billion to expanding broadband access, and $100 billion for energy infrastructure. This plan differs from Trump’s infrastructure plan in that it would be directly funded (likely through corporate tax reform).[78]

The Congressional Progressive Caucus has a proposal called the "21st Century New Deal for Jobs" that would spend $2 trillion over 10 years. This plan would invest in roads, bridges, public transit systems, water and sewage systems, clean-energy jobs, high-speed Internet access, and veterans' hospitals.[79]