Washington, D.C. — Today, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), released the following statement after the pair introduced the bipartisan Restoring Communities Left behind Act. The legislation would make $5 billion available to local communities through a grant program administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development in order to fund neighborhood revitalization activities including homeowner rehabilitation assistance, weatherization, improved housing accessibility for seniors and people with disabilities, housing counseling, refinancing, property tax relief, and more. The purpose of the grant program is to provide a flexible source of dedicated federal funding to assist localities in their community development and revitalization efforts.
The legislation has been endorsed by the National Community Stabilization Trust, Center for Community Progress, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Grounded Solutions Network, Habitat for Humanity, Detroit People’s Platform, Bridging Communities, the United Community Housing Coalition, and National Community Action Foundation.
“Housing justice is economic justice and racial justice,” said Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. “Communities across the country are suffering from government disinvestment and systemic racism. The Restoring Communities Left Behind Act is a major step in reversing decades of discriminatory policy. This legislation will turn homeownership from a possibility to a reality for so many who have been left out, as well as ensures many others have the ability to maintain and stay in their homes in good condition. I’m proud to lead this bill with Congresswoman Kaptur. This is only the beginning, we must continue to make major federal investments in struggling communities to allow everyone to live with a good roof over their head. The pandemic has set many of our neighbors back, and policies like the Restoring Communities Left Behind Act are needed to help people not only recover from the damage, but thrive and flourish like they deserve.”
“In the last several decades, especially since the 2008 housing and financial crisis, many communities, from the smallest towns to the largest cities, have struggled with urban decay as jobs have moved overseas and economic well-being has collapsed,” said Congresswoman Marcy. Kaptur. “Through it all, folks in these communities have tirelessly worked together to rebuild and breathe new life into our cities – Toledo and Detroit are perfect examples. Unfortunately, COVID-19 and the resulting economic fallout have made that important work more difficult and more important than ever before. That is why I am introducing the Restoring Communities Left Behind Act, to provide a dedicated funding source for these communities when they need it most. I am so thankful to have my friend and colleague Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib’s co-leadership in this effort. She knows as well as anybody the importance of affordable, high-quality housing and resources to help home-owners build equity in what often-times is their only physical asset.”
Restoring Communities Left Behind Act does the following:
- Authorizes the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to establish a $5 billion program for FY21-31 to award competitive grants to eligible local partnerships to carry out neighborhood revitalization support activities.
- This includes providing assistance to existing residents experiencing economic distress with homeowner rehabilitation assistance, weatherization, improved housing accessibility for seniors and people with disabilities, housing counseling, refinancing, property tax relief and so much more.
- Supports the purchase and redevelopment of vacant, abandoned, or distressed properties to create opportunities for affordable rental housing, home ownership, shared equity homeownership, or commercial properties.
- Provides funding to improve parks, sidewalks, street lighting, and other neighborhood improvements that impact quality of life in low income neighborhoods.
- Provides significant funding for self-help housing opportunities and capacity building to provide key community development opportunities and skills trainings in low income areas.
- To ensure regional inclusivity, the bill ensures geographic diversity and provides for a set-aside for communities outside metropolitan statistical areas.
Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Bobby L. Rush (D-IL), Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Mark Takano (D-CA), André Carson (D-IN), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Ritchie Torres (D-NY), Mondaire Jones (D-NY), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Chuy Garcia (D-IL), Andy Levin (D-MI), James McGovern (D-MA), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Cori Bush (MO), Michael F.Q. San Nicolas (D-GU), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Nanette Barragán (D-CA), Fred Upton (R-MI)
“Communities like Detroit have seen neighborhoods hollowed out by systemic racism, corporate greed, and governmental disinvestment, and it’s long overdue that we target resources directly to the frontline communities that need them most,” said Linda Campbell, Director of the Detroit People’s Platform. “We work directly with Detroit residents who need help maintaining their roofs and fixing their furnaces to allow them to stay in their homes, and this bill helps rebuild neighborhood economic security by empowering residents and community organizations.”
“The Restoring Communities Left Behind Act is a vital lifeline for communities like Detroit and Toledo,” said Lisa Johanon, Executive Director of Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corporation. “We were already facing a critical shortage of affordable housing and the pandemic’s economic devastation has only made our situation worse. Rep. Tlaib and Rep. Kaptur’s bill will provide billions for critical neighborhood revitalization efforts like redeveloping distressed properties, repairs and weatherization, and counseling and mortgage refinance that we can’t afford to wait for any longer.”
“The Local Initiatives Support Corporation supports the Restoring Communities Left Behind Act, which will assist community based partnerships furthering affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization efforts in our nation’s most distressed communities,” said Tahirih Ziegler, Executive Director of LISC Detroit. “The assistance provided under this bill is needed now more than ever as Detroit and other cities address increased housing and community development needs resulting from covid-19. We thank Rep. Tlaib for her leadership in providing local communities the comprehensive resources necessary to respond to the pandemic, increase affordable housing, and address blight and economic distress.”
“We are deeply grateful for the opportunity that the Restoring Communities Left Behind Act provides for increased homeownership, stable neighborhoods and healthy homes,” said Michele Oberholtzer, Director of Tax Foreclosure Prevention with the United Community Housing Coalition. “Detroit is the city of homes and once enjoyed some of the highest homeownership rates overall and African-American homeownership rates in the country. Over the past decade, the mortgage foreclosure crisis and subsequent tax foreclosure crisis have contributed to Michigan losing more African-American homeowners than any other state. This legislation is a sorely needed investment in preserving what we have and avoiding the wrecking balls. UCHC looks eagerly for the opportunities to put the great ideas in this bill to work in Detroit.”
“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 a bold, powerful proposal to equip neighborhood residents and leaders around the country with desperately needed funding and tools to not only weather the current crises, but to build back better. This targeted program will give a much needed lifeline to local nonprofits, land banks, community land trusts, and other eligible partners to engage existing residents in restoring their left behind communities into vibrant, equitable places. The Center for Community Progress thanks Rep. Kaptur, Rep. Tlaib, and Chairwoman Waters for their vision and leadership.”
“We are so grateful to Congresswoman Kaptur and Congresswoman Tlaib for providing leadership to ensure that communities are no longer left behind,” said Tony Picket, CEO of the Grounded Solutions Network.“Congresswoman Kaptur and Congresswoman Tlaib truly understand that the enduring impacts of redlining need to be rectified. Her bill does just that by providing critical affordable housing and community investment to targeted disinvested neighborhoods.”
“NCST enthusiastically supports the “Restoring Communities Left Behind Act,” which will help local governments, nonprofits, land banks and other partners put vacant properties back to productive use,” said Julia Gordon, President of the National Community Stabilization Trust. “Reducing blight and increasing the supply of affordable homeownership and rental will boost local property values and help build wealth for individuals and communities. We commend Representatives Kaptur and Tlaib for developing a thoughtful, targeted approach to helping neighborhoods reverse the cycle of blight and disinvestment.”
“Far too many communities across the country have been left behind,” Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity. “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. 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 Representatives Kaptur and Tlaib 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.”
Bill text for the legislation can be found here.