Joe Biden

ICYMI: President Biden Proposes Boldest Housing Plan in a Generation to Lower Housing Costs for Renters & Homebuyers

March 14, 2024

During his State of the Union Address, President Biden proposed the boldest housing plan in a generation – a plan that would lower housing costs for renters and homebuyers and expand access to quality, affordable housing. The President called on Congress to support the construction and rehabilitation of 2 million additional homes, lower costs for renters, and help first time homebuyers and families seeking to trade up or downsize. And he announced his Administration will take additional actions to lower closing costs and make rental markets fairer. The President's Fiscal Year 2025 Budget included a historic $258 billion in housing investments to give working families a fair shot, including an historic expansion in rental assistance for low-income families, while reducing the deficit by asking the wealthy to pay their fair share.

As National Housing Conference President and CEO David Dworkin put it, "This is the most consequential State of the Union address on housing in more than 50 years. President Biden's call for Congress to tackle the urgent matter of housing affordability through tax credits, down payment assistance initiatives and other measures is warranted and represents a crucial step in easing the burden of high rents and home prices."

The President's new proposals build on his Housing Supply Action Plan and a number of actions his Administration has already taken to increase the housing supply and lower housing costs for American families, including reducing mortgage insurance premiums by $800 per year for hundreds of thousands of homeowners, expanding rental assistance to more than 100,000 additional households, and building tens of thousands of affordable housing units. These actions have contributed to a record high of nearly 1.7 million homes currently under construction nationwide.
Read more below:

Axios: Why Biden's so obsessed with housing policy
[Emily Peck, 3/11/2024]

There's a big focus on housing in the 2025 budget President Biden just sent Congress.
Why it matters: America's housing shortage plus record high mortgage rates, rising home prices and rents are a big worry for voters — and a key area for the president as he makes his pitch for a second term.

  • It's also an area where the White House feels it can get Republican support.
  • Finding ways to reduce housing costs is a "central concern" for the administration, White House domestic policy advisor Neera Tanden tells Axios. "There's a bipartisan interest in housing and in increasing housing supply."

Driving the news: "I know the cost of housing is critical [for] families nationwide," Biden said in a speech Monday, touting his housing plan. "Every family deserves a place to call home and a place to have your American dreams come true."

  • "The bottom line is that you have to build, build, build. That's how we bring housing costs down for good."

USA TODAY: Biden's housing plan will be front and center in 2024, top economic advisor signals
[Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy, 3/12/24]

President Joe Biden's top economic advisor says housing affordability is moving to the top of the administration's economic agenda as it continues moving to ban "rental junk fees" and reduce closing costs to increase affordability for homeowners and renters.

The remarks by Lael Brainard, the director of the National Economic Council, signal the administration will continue making the case for affordable housing beyond Biden's State of the Union address and that the issue will be one of the biggest he will be talking about on the campaign trail.

"Whenever the president is sitting at kitchen tables with Americans in every community, they all talk about housing affordability as a very important priority," Brainard said in an exclusive interview with USA TODAY. "Housing affordability is front and center in, in the challenges of affordability, many families face."

Politico: The rent is too damn high. And Joe Biden knows it.
[Adam Cancryn, Eugene Daniels and Katy O'Donnell, 3/14/24]

President Joe Biden has expressed increasing concern in private that the high cost of housing is undermining the economic case at the center of his reelection campaign. And it's spurring a fresh effort within the White House to defuse the issue.

Biden has repeatedly pressed his senior staff for new ways to make homes more affordable and available, quizzing aides on mortgage rates and rental prices. He's also demanded details on the burden that housing inflation has placed on families' monthly budgets, according to two senior White House officials, who were granted anonymity to describe private conversations []

The White House is now making a fresh push to show it shares Americans' frustration, elevating housing to a top priority just as Biden begins a general election run that could hinge on voters' perception of his economic record.
Earlier this week, the administration pitched a suite of expanded tax credits and new funding aimed at making it easier to build and afford housing in its annual budget — though those proposals amount to more of a second-term vision than a readily implementable plan.

Washington Post: Biden to propose new $5,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers
[Rachel Siege and Jeff Stein, 3/7/24]

President Biden will propose a set of new housing initiatives in Thursday's State of the Union address, including tax credits to offset high mortgage rates for first-time home buyers and encourage people to move out of starter homes and put them on the market.

The proposals would provide middle-class, first-time buyers with $5,000 per year for two years. That would have the same effect as lowering a buyer's mortgage rate by more than 1.5 percentage points for two years on the median home, according to the White House.

Biden will also call on Congress to provide a one-year credit of up to $10,000 for families who sell their starter homes, so long as their houses are below the median price in their county. The idea is to free up a part of the market that has been effectively frozen, as thousands of homeowners cling to low mortgages of 2 or 3 percent and avoid buying a new home with a much higher rate.

The proposals build on the administration's prior moves to build more homes, tackle high rents and help first-generation buyers get a down payment. And the moves come as housing persists as one of the most out-of-reach parts of the economy, and remains a key issue for voters in this year's election.

"This plan is the most consequential set of housing recommendations in a State of a Union in over 50 years, and I say that because I've looked them all up," said David Dworkin, president and chief executive officer of the National Housing Conference and a former Treasury Department official.

Dworkin stressed that the administration's most consequential housing plan was its commitment to build and preserve 2 million homes.

"We have a huge hole this would make a big dent in," he said. "The supply side is driving housing prices, and this is the most ambitious housing supply agenda in recent history."

Washington Post: Opinion Biden's budget calls the bluff of supposed GOP budget hawks
[Jennifer Rubin, 3/14/24]

[…] Biden — on the heels of significant efforts to cut student debt despite the Supreme Court's overturning his central student debt forgiveness effort — comes up with a plan to aid generally young, first-time home buyers. Biden seeks to "unstick" the housing market where low supply of housing stock and higher rates put a home out of reach for millions of first-time buyers. He also addresses the problem of rising rents by subsidizing new construction and renovation and with a "strike force" across agencies. "Launched on Tuesday to curb unfair and illegal pricing across the economy," USA Today reports, the group "will also work to combat egregious rent increases and other practices driving up rents."

The Biden budget's housing plans include subsidies and administrative measures to increase building of affordable housing units and creates a mortgage relief credit for first-time home buyers of up to $10,000, paid over two years. ("This is the equivalent of reducing the mortgage rate by 1.5 percentage points for two years on the median home, to help more than 3.5 million middle-class families purchase their first home over the next two years," the administration explains in its fact sheet.) The budget would also offer a $10,000 credit to homeowners to sell their starter homes.

Politico Playbook: Joe Biden's secret policy obsession
[Eugene Daniels, Rachael Bade and Ryan Lizza, 3/14/24]

HOUSING FIRST — Five decades ago, when Biden was a lowly senator in his 30s, Sen. HUBERT HUMPHREY (D-Minn.) imparted some advice if he wanted to become a figure in national politics.

"You have to pick an issue that becomes yours," Humphrey said, according to Biden's book "Promises to Keep." "That's how you demonstrate your bona fides. Don't be a gadfly."

But what issue? There, too, Humphrey had thoughts. "You should become Mr. Housing. Housing is the future," he told Biden. "You could be the leader of a whole new generation that provides decent housing in America for middle-class and lower-middle-class people and the poor."

Fast-forward a half-century: Biden is in the White House, and that long-ago advice seems to have taken hold.

In meetings with his inner circle, Biden is somewhat obsessed with the issue, using briefings to press senior staff on housing affordability, quizzing aides on mortgage rates and rental costs and demanding details on the burden that inflation has placed on families' monthly housing budgets, aides tell Eugene, Adam Cancryn and Katy O'Donnell in a new story out this morning.[…]

"Progress has been made, but we need to make more progress. And I think the President's plan will do just that." White House chief of staff JEFF ZIENTS tells Playbook, calling housing "one of those expenses that people deal with every month or they see around them every day," and it cuts across all demographics and geographies.

Wall Street Journal: White House Revives Plan to Save Homeowners Money on Closing Costs
[Andrew Ackerman, 3/7/24]

The Biden administration on Thursday announced a program to save homeowners thousands of dollars in closing costs on certain mortgages, bulldozing opposition from an industry that had scuttled a similar plan last year.

The initiative aims to reduce one of the biggest costs associated with closing on a mortgage: title insurance. Under a pilot program, government-controlled mortgage giant Fannie Mae will waive a requirement for title insurance on mortgage refinancings it purchases from certain lenders.

The move reignites a fight with the industry over the cost, and necessity, of the insurance, part of the White House's broader aim to chip away barriers to homeownership. The administration announced the program hours ahead of President Biden's State of the Union address.

CBS News: President Biden wants to give homebuyers a $10,000 tax credit. Here's who would qualify.
[Aimee Picchi, 3/11/24]

[] In his State of the Union address on Thursday, President Joe Biden proposed a new tax credit that would provide $10,000 to first-time home buyers.

Biden is also proposing a separate $10,000 tax credit for current homeowners who sell their "starter home" in order to jump into a bigger house. That could help melt a real estate market in which homeowners who locked in low mortgage rates during the pandemic and are hesitant to move because they now face significantly higher mortgage rates.

Biden's proposals — which must be enacted by Congress — were cheered by advocates of affordable housing, with National Housing Council CEO David M. Dworkin calling it "the most consequential State of the Union address on housing in more than 50 years." On a practical level, the tax credits would lower the cost of purchasing a home, an issue that affects Americans of all ages and stripes.

"Housing affordability has become a key issue for Americans spanning all demographics and political divides, and housing policy has mostly remained steady in recent congressional budgets," noted Moody's associate economist Nick Luettke in a report touching on Biden's efforts.

Axios: Inside Biden's plan to unlock the housing market's golden handcuffs
[Emily Peck, 3/11/24]

President Biden wants to give Americans a $10,000 tax credit — just for selling their homes.
Why it matters: It's an acknowledgment that the housing market has come to something of a standstill amid sky-high mortgage rates.

  • The administration hopes the move would help unlock homeowners' golden handcuffs, a shorthand way of saying people are stuck in their houses because they don't want to give up the mortgage they got back in the low-rate era.

Joseph R. Biden, ICYMI: President Biden Proposes Boldest Housing Plan in a Generation to Lower Housing Costs for Renters & Homebuyers Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/370777

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