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White House unveils steps to expand, protect affordable housing amid rising inflation

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White House unveils steps to expand, protect affordable housing amid rising inflation
The White House said it's working with the Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Commerce to address supply chain disruptions -- which has been another global challenge brought on by COVID-19 -- for building materials. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

May 16 (UPI) -- The White House on Monday announced steps to increase and protect affordable housing nationwide by using federal funds as an incentive for reforms, a move to counter rising inflation that President Joe Biden has said is his top priority.

The White House plan will use funding from the bipartisan infrastructure law to control housing costs, officials said.

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The plan acknowledges that a shortage of available housing and rising rent is helping to fuel inflation. Biden's administration says the crisis has slowly built up over the past five years to create a deficit in affordable housing and exacerbate rent -- a situation made even worse by COVID-19.

"The president's plan includes legislative and administrative actions that will help close America's housing supply shortfall in five years, starting with the creation and preservation of hundreds of thousands of affordable housing units in the next three years," the White House said in a statement Monday.

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"When aligned with other policies to reduce housing costs and ensure affordability, such as rental assistance and down payment assistance, closing the gap will mean more affordable rents and more attainable homeownership for Americans in every community."

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Specifically, the White House plan seeks to deploy new financing mechanisms where gaps exist, expand federal funding and work with the private sector to finish new construction through the end of 2022.

"Today's rising housing costs are years in the making," the White House added. "Fewer new homes were built in the decade following the Great Recession than in any decade since the 1960s -- constraining housing supply and failing to keep pace with demand and household formation.

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"This mismatch between housing supply and housing demand grew during the pandemic. While estimates vary, Moody's Analytics estimates that the shortfall in the housing supply is more than 1.5 million homes nationwide."

Administration officials said that Biden will urge Congress to pass new investments in housing production and preservation. They also said that the president's proposed $5.8 trillion 2023 budget includes investments in housing inventory that would lead to an addition of 500,000 homes nationwide.

The White House said it's working with the Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Commerce to address supply chain disruptions -- which has been another global challenge brought on by COVID-19 -- for building materials.

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Administration officials said they will explore more moves to finish partially constructed homes and use them to ease inflationary pressures on the market and for residents.

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"Closing the gap will mean more affordable rents and more attainable homeownership for Americans in every community," the White House said. "This is the most comprehensive all of government effort to close the housing supply shortfall in history."

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