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Policies to Improve Affordable Rental Housing and Homeownership
The COVID-19 pandemic and related economic downturn have accelerated the existing housing affordability crisis for renters and homeowners, exacerbating longstanding inequities and pre-existing economic stressors on households. As of 2019, an estimated 37.1 million US households, nearly one in three, spent more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Of those, more than 17 million spent greater than 50 percent of their income on housing costs. As the demand for affordable housing continues to outpace the supply across the country, rising housing prices make it increasingly difficult for many individuals and families to afford and sustain housing, especially housing located in opportunity connected communities with greater access to jobs and economic mobility. This has had an outsized negative impact on those most at risk of housing insecurity before the crisis—Black and Latinx households and people earning low incomes—and has delayed or precluded homeownership, which has been a key driver of amassing generational wealth for many Americans.
The JPMorgan Chase PolicyCenter has outlined solutions in support of comprehensive and transformative evidence-based policy reforms that improve household stability weakened by the pandemic and increase the availability of and equitable access to affordable housing near economic opportunity for renters and homeowners.
Both affordable rental housing and sustainable affordable homeownership located in opportunity connected communities are essential to improving overall affordability and household stability in the housing market. Therefore, public and private sector solutions should span the rental housing and homeownership markets to address structural change in the broader housing ecosystem. Policymakers can address COVID-induced challenges and long-term recovery for renters and homeowners by closing the gaps that leave cost-burdened households vulnerable to economic shocks. This requires a multi-faceted approach, including advancing policies that effectively produce and preserve more housing units at lower costs, supporting common sense regulatory reforms to increase availability of sustainable mortgage credit, and removing bias-based barriers that have impeded people of color from fully participating in the housing market.
To advance equitable access to stable, affordable, opportunity connected rental housing, we recommend the following policy solutions:
- Expedite execution of better targeted rental assistance.
- Incentivize eviction reforms that improve outcomes for tenants and landlords and establish a national eviction tracking database.
- Increase funding for effective affordable housing production programs.
- Incentivize investments that increase economic opportunity in communities that have experienced disinvestment.
- Remove barriers to affordable rental housing production in opportunity connected communities.
- Mitigate source of income discrimination.
- Support Fair Chance Housing for people with criminal backgrounds.
To increase equitable access to stable, affordable, sustainable homeownership, we recommend the following policy solutions:
- Build on COVID-19 protections to effectively support homeowners.
- Simplify loan servicing standards.
- Leverage public funds to help homebuyers meet down payment requirements.
- Expand funding to increase supply of affordable homes for purchase.
- Advance reforms to increase mortgage market liquidity to improve access to affordable, sustainable mortgages that better serve people of color and low-income borrowers.
- Encourage federal housing policies that advance fair housing and address discrimination.