Bill Aims to Support Communities in Michigan & Across US That Have Endured Longstanding Disinvestment by Establishing Federal Grant Program for Affordable Housing and Community Revitalization Projects
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) announced he introduced legislation that aims to provide affordable housing opportunities and investment to communities that have endured longstanding disinvestment. The Restoring Communities Left Behind Act would create a $5 billion program at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to award competitive grants to eligible local partnerships to carry out neighborhood revitalization support activities. These activities include restoring damaged or vacant properties for affordable housing, providing skills training programs in low-income areas and improving parks, sidewalks, street lighting, and other neighborhood improvements that impact quality of life in these communities.
Some of these communities that have not seen critical federal investment also have been especially hit-hard economically by the COVID-19 pandemic. This legislation seeks to promote equitable economic recovery, job creation, and community infrastructure revitalization in areas most in need while supporting opportunities for homeownership and preventing resident displacement. U.S. Representatives Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) and Marcy Kaptur (OH-09) led introduction of similar legislation in the House of Representatives earlier this year.
“This pandemic has reinforced the critical need for robust federal investment in communities that have previously been left behind to help them emerge even stronger,” said Senator Peters. “This commonsense bill will provide a significant boost to the neighborhoods and areas across our state that need it most while supporting programs that provide skills training, investing in local development projects and improving access to affordable housing.”
“Investments in affordable housing must lead with equity, prioritizing communities that have faced generations of disinvestment,” said Melinda Clemons, Vice President and Detroit Market Leader at Enterprise Community Partners. “Enterprise is proud to support the Restoring Communities Left Behind Act, and we applaud Senator Peters for championing a variety of approaches to community development, including community land trusts and other innovative models for ensuring that homes remain affordable for decades to come.”
“Far too many communities across the country have been left behind. The devastating impact of distressed economies, high poverty rates, and concentrations of abandoned properties and deteriorating homes, keeps many communities locked into a downward spiral they cannot easily climb out of without concerted intervention and assistance,” said Chris Vincent, Vice President, Government Relations and Advocacy at Habitat for Humanity. “The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this crisis. Habitat works and builds in these communities. We understand the incredible needs families face, and see firsthand the effect underwater mortgages, abandoned properties, and aging housing stock and infrastructure has on their health and ability to thrive. Habitat for Humanity applauds Senator Peters for introducing The Restoring Communities Left Behind Act. We’re additionally grateful that more funding support for the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP) has been included in the legislation. Many Habitat affiliates use SHOP to acquire land, build infrastructure, and purchase abandoned and foreclosed properties.”
“The Local Initiatives Support Corporation supports the Restoring Communities Left Behind Act, which will assist community-based partnerships increasing affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization efforts in our nation’s most distressed communities,” said Tahirih Ziegler, Vice President for Local Initiatives Support Corporation Midwest Program, which includes Michigan. “The assistance provided under this bill is needed now more than ever as communities in Michigan address increased housing and community development needs resulting from covid-19. We thank Sen. Peters for his leadership in providing local communities the comprehensive resources necessary to respond to the pandemic, increase affordable housing, and address blight and economic distress.”
“We believe that all people deserve the opportunities provided by living in healthy communities," said Jim Logue, Executive Vice President for Policy & Government Relations at Cinnaire. "The Restoring Communities Left Behind Act will help us meet that mission by bringing resources to communities that need it most. We thank Senator Peters for sponsoring this legislation to help create vibrant, healthy communities for everyone in Michigan, regardless of where they live."
“We are so grateful to Senator Peters for introducing the Restoring Communities Left Behind Act in the Senate,” Tony Pickett, CEO of Grounded Solutions Network said. “He understands that communities across the country have been left behind including too many places in Michigan. These communities require targeted investments to address the enduring impacts of redlining, the Great Recession, job loss, and racial inequity. This Act will enable communities to revitalize and stabilize through advancing affordable housing as infrastructure without displacement, giving local nonprofits and community partners greater flexibility to address their particular needs through interventions like community land trusts, affordable homeownership, land banks, homeowner repair, and foreclosure prevention.”
“So many communities have struggled for too long to recover from the Great Recession, broken markets, decades of disinvestment, and generations of racial inequity,” said Dr. Akilah Watkins, President, and CEO of the Center for Community Progress. “These same neighborhoods now face the compounding health and economic crises of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Restoring Communities Left Behind Act is the type of flexible, impactful legislation that will help American communities respond to our diverse and growing revitalization needs. We thank Senator Peters for his leadership and vision.”
“The National Community Stabilization Trust commends Senator Peters for his thoughtful legislation, which will revitalize cities and towns in Michigan and across the nation that are struggling with blight and disinvestment,” said Kristin Siglin, Vice President of Policy and Partnerships at the National Community Stabilization Trust.
The Restoring Communities Left Behind Act would:
· Authorize a $5 billion revitalization grant program: This bill would give the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development authority to establish a $5 billion program for the next decade to award competitive grants to eligible local partnerships to carry out neighborhood revitalization support. This would include providing assistance to existing residents experiencing economic distress with homeowner rehabilitation assistance, weatherization, improved housing accessibility for seniors and people with disabilities, refinancing, housing counseling, property tax relief and so much more.
· Support the redevelopment of vacant, abandoned, or distressed properties: This bill would create opportunities for affordable rental housing, homeownership, shared equity homeownership, or commercial properties by providing funds to help purchase and rehabilitate residential properties. This would also include funding for community spaces such as parks, sidewalks, street lighting, and other neighborhood improvements that impact quality of life in low-income neighborhoods.
· Provide significant funding for self-help housing opportunities: The bill would help increase capacity building to provide key community development opportunities and skills trainings in low-income areas.
To ensure regional inclusivity, this legislation would promote geographic diversity in making grant awards and provide a set-aside for communities outside metropolitan areas.
The Restoring Communities Left Behind Act is supported by a wide range of organizations, including: Local Initiatives Support Corporation, National Community Stabilization Trust, Center for Community Progress, Grounded Solutions Network, Habitat for Humanity, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Community Action Foundation, Up for Growth Action, National NeighborWorks Association, Enterprise Community Partners, U.S. Conference of Mayors and National League of Cities. It is also backed by the Housing Assistance Council, Low Income Investment Fund, National Housing Trust, Opportunity Finance Network, National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations, Natural Resources Defense Council, Federation of Appalachian Housing Enterprises, Woodstock Institute, National Consumer Law Center, Policy Link, National Fair Housing Alliance, Center for Responsible Lending, National Community Reinvestment Coalition, and Preservation of Affordable Housing, Inc.