WASHINGTON, D.C. — This week, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (MI-12) and Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-09) re-introduced the 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 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.
“In the communities I represent, the rate of homeownership among our families continues to decline as the cost of housing continues to skyrocket. This is happening while countless housing units remain vacant and in disrepair with no real programs helping change it,” said Congresswoman Tlaib. “With the Restoring Communities Left Behind Act, we have an urgent and unique opportunity to help our communities increase homeownership with home repair grants, counseling, and neighborhood revitalization. We must save homes, provide resources, and increase housing options for our neighbors. Too many communities in Michigan’s 12th district and across the country were hollowed out by the Great Recession and hammered by the COVID-19 pandemic, and this legislation would reverse generational disinvestment with targeted federal funding for the local partnerships that are serving our neighbors on the ground. I could not have asked for a better partner than Rep. Kaptur in leading this legislation—let’s restore unused housing stock to livable condition, open the door to homeownership to those who have been locked out, and revitalize these communities that have been left behind.”
“In the last several decades, especially since the 2008 housing and financial crisis, many communities like the ones I represent, that include small towns and large cities, have struggled with urban decay, and rising costs of housing as jobs have moved overseas or to the coasts,” said Congresswoman Kaptur. “Through it all, the folks I represent have worked tirelessly to rebuild and breathe new life into our cities. Toledo and Detroit are perfect examples of great American cities in need of revitalization that will have an impact on our entire region. As we come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, and recover from the economic fallout, the importance of these revitalization efforts is more critical now than ever. That is why I am reintroducing the Restoring Communities Left Behind Act to provide a dedicated funding source for these communities when they need it most. The importance of affordable, high-quality housing and resources to help homeowners build equity in what often-times is their only and most important physical and financial asset cannot be overstated. They are critical lifelines to economic security and community restoration.”
“Habitat for Humanity applauds Representatives Kaptur and Tlaib for re-introducing The Restoring Communities Left Behind Act, which will help address the historic lows in affordable housing supply. 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 Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International. “Habitat works and builds in these communities. We understand the incredible needs families face, and see firsthand the effect of underwater mortgages, abandoned properties, and aging housing stock and infrastructure has on their health and ability to thrive.”
“We wholeheartedly endorse Representative Marcy Kaptur and Representative Rashida Tlaib’s Restoring Communities Left Behind Act,” said David Bradley, CEO of the National Community Action Foundation. “Marcy Kaptur’s distinguished 40 year congressional career is a living testament to her everlasting commitment to America’s neighborhoods and to give all of our citizens a sense of hope, opportunity, and a chance to share in the American dream. The passage of this act must be one of the highest priorities in Congress. We look forward to working with both Congresswomen Kaptur and Tlaib to pass the Restoring Communities Left Behind Act.”
“We are thrilled to see the Restoring Communities Left Behind Act be reintroduced,” said Tony Pickett, CEO of Grounded Solutions Network. “This bill is an opportunity to support a range of urban and rural communities across the country, that have not previously had access to significant investments in housing and infrastructure. Congresswoman Kaptur’s proposed legislation has the potential to move thousands of deserving households further up the economic ladder, filling critical existing gaps in federal funding for economically distressed communities. Grounded Solutions Network members across the nation are advancing racial and economic equity by increasing access to homes with lasting affordability, to result in thriving communities, and this bill would greatly advance our objectives.”
“The Local Initiatives Support Corporation supports the Restoring Communities Left Behind Act due to the tremendous housing needs in economically distressed communities,” said Kim Cutcher, Executive Director of LISC Toledo and Program Vice President, Midwest. “Our nation was already experiencing an affordable housing crisis before the pandemic, and we now face even larger challenges due to escalating costs and their disproportionate impact on underserved families. The resources provided under this legislation will support local nonprofit housing organizations working in partnership to protect vulnerable residents and expand affordable housing opportunities in our nation’s highest need communities. We thank Rep. Kaptur for her leadership in providing communities the resources necessary to increase affordable housing opportunities.”
“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 Chris Tyson, 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.”
“The Erie County (Ohio) Board of Health is pleased to offer its full support toward the re-introduction of the Restoring Communities Left Behind Act,” said Pete Schade Erie County Health Commissioner. “As we are keenly aware, this bill will enable our neighborhoods and our local communities to benefit from revitalization support. This bill reflects the genuine intent of Congress; enabling our communities to continue in recovery while improving the quality of life for all. As Health Commissioner, I can attest to the need for this legislation, and can provide unparalleled testimony toward its enactment. Thank you, Congresswoman Kaptur, for your continued work toward building our neighborhoods in the right direction.”
The Restoring Communities Left Behind Act does the following:
- Authorizes the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to establish a $5 billion program over the next 10 years to award competitive grants to eligible local partnerships to carry out neighborhood revitalization support activities.
- Helps provide 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.
Original Cosponsors of this legislation include Representatives Raul M. Grijalva (AZ-07), Mark Takano (CA-41), Lisa Blunt-Rochester (DE-AL) Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-00), Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04), Debbie Dingell (MI-06), Joyce Beatty (OH-03), Betty McCollum (MN-04), Cori Bush (MO-01), Deborah Ross (NC-02).
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, and National Community Action Foundation.
The full text of the legislation can be found here.