US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09) to announce the Senate introduction of their bicameral bill, the Affordable Housing and Area Median Income Fairness Act of 2022, which addresses core challenges that have led to a lack of affordable housing in New York City and nation’s urban areas. The bill would invest $15 billion in affordable housing each year for 10 years and reexamine a key metric used in determining eligibility for low-income housing.
While many factors contribute to the housing crisis, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) calculation known as Area Median Income (AMI), used to determine rent prices and income limits for affordable units, excludes actual low-income families from the affordable housing intended for them. Currently, AMI is informed by income data from the entire metropolitan area – which means data from the wealthiest areas of Westchester and Rockland County is being used when determining who qualifies for housing in low-income communities across our region.
The Affordable Housing and Area Median Income Fairness Act of 2022 would take a multipronged approach to empower municipalities, increase developer transparency, and bolster the supply of affordable housing. The bill would create over 350,000 new units of affordable housing with a $15 billion annual investment and directs HUD to assess alternative calculation methods for AMI to better include eligible low-income families in affordable housing determinations.
“The global pandemic exposed the extent of the housing crisis in New York City and across the country,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “Affordable housing is becoming increasingly hard to find, and we need to rethink how we help low-income families. The Affordable Housing and Area Median Income Fairness Act of 2022 would reexamine our approach to calculating AMI and would also invest $15 billion per year to help make housing more affordable for low-income and middle-class families in New York. I look forward to fighting to pass it in the Senate.”
“In my beloved Brooklyn and too many communities across this nation, the security of affordable housing has become entirely out-of-reach to those who rely on it. For the communities of color most impacted by these inequities, we cannot afford to do nothing while they suffer under the unaffordability of safety,” said Congresswoman Clarke. “The simple measures within the Affordable Housing and Area Median Income Fairness Act of 2022 won’t only lower-income caps and rent prices and significantly increase the supply of affordable housing – they will keep our communities’ most vulnerable groups safe in homes that won’t bankrupt them. This bill is a fundamental step in our fight against housing insecurity, and I am proud to have introduced it.”
Nationwide, just under half of all renters face a rent burden exceeding 30% of their income. Almost 1 in 4 renters contribute more than 50% of their income to rent every single month. In cities across the country, especially in New York City, soaring rent prices and the severe lack of affordable housing units continue to displace low-income communities and keep basic housing needs out of reach.
The Affordable Housing and A.M.I. Fairness Act would:
· Mandate the Department of Housing and Urban Development to assess alternative calculation methods for AMI
o This assessment must also include an assessment of potential replacements to AMI
o Further, requires HUD to assess the impacts that Westchester and Rockland Counties have on New York City’s AMI-related metrics and affordable housing supply – including income limits and maximum rent prices.
· Allocate $5 billion per fiscal year from 2023 through 2032 to the Housing Trust Fund, an Obama-era funding source designed to build affordable housing for renters with incomes at or below the 30% AMI level.
· Allocate $5 billion per fiscal year from 2023 through 2032 to the HOME Investment Partnerships program providing further assistance to local governments as they oftentimes work with non-profit developers in increasing the affordable housing stock for low-income renters.
· Allocate $5 billion per fiscal year from 2023 through 2032 to the Community Development Block Grant Entitlement Program providing funding for block grants to state and local governments to support the development of viable urban communities, primarily for low- and moderate-income renters.
In addition to Senator Gillibrand and Rep. Clarke, the Affordable Housing and Area Median Income Fairness Act of 2022 is supported by 36 cosponsors including New York Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman, Ritchie Torres, Hakeem Jeffries, Jerrold Nadler, Mondaire Jones, Grace Meng, Adriano Espaillat, Gregory Meeks, Carolyn Maloney, and Nydia Velázquez.