Budget Negotiations Force Retreat of Biden's Housing Ambitions

The Build Back Better agenda is in retreat—including much of the substance on a plan to spend $330 billion to tackle the nation's housing affordability crisis.

2 minute read

November 1, 2021, 11:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Capitol Hill

Julie Clopper / Shutterstock

Negotiations over the federal budget reconciliation bill, which includes several components of critical importance to the planning field, such as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, took a turn at the end of October.

Jersulem Demsas reports on how the budget bill has transformed the Biden administration's Build Back Better agenda—a key promise of the Biden campaign during the election and a frequent talking point in the White House as the Covid-19 pandemic has lingered. Demsas describes the evolution of the Build Back Better in dire terms:

This package was both a once-in-a-generation investment and also barely enough to scratch the surface. Now, even those proposed investments are being cut down as part of negotiations over the final package.

More concerning, according to the article, is the bill's avoidance of the root of the problem. To elaborate this point, Demsas interviews Paul Williams, a fellow at the Jain Family Institute, for details of the new, adjusted Build Back Better plan regarding issues like the Housing Trust Fund, down payment assistance, exclusionary zoning reform, and more.

A planning-specific component of Build Back Better, the "Housing Supply and Affordability Act," is still in the reconciliation bill, according to Tweets by the Planners' Advocacy Network of the American Planning Association. Williams, however, doubts the grant program is substantial enough to "swing the pendulum for a lot of jurisdictions, particularly those with some of the most egregious policies."

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