The focus of President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure bill is allegedly to address aging infrastructure across the country, but the massive bill covers a vast amount of other spending, including money for “diversifying” neighborhoods.
This portion of Biden’s American Jobs Plan would change zoning laws to end single family home neighborhoods and allow for multiple unit “affordable” or low-income rental housing.
According to the White House Fact Sheet, the housing effort is “an innovative new approach to eliminate state and local exclusionary zoning laws, which drive up the cost of construction and keep families from moving to neighborhoods with more opportunities for them and their kids”:
“For decades, exclusionary zoning laws — like minimum lot sizes, mandatory parking requirements, and prohibitions on multifamily housing — have inflated housing and construction costs and locked families out of areas with more opportunities,” the fact sheet states. “President Biden is calling on Congress to enact an innovative, new competitive grant program that awards flexible and attractive funding to jurisdictions that take concrete steps to eliminate such needless barriers to producing affordable housing.”
In contrast to former President Donald Trump’s Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Opportunity Zones program that partnered the federal government with private sector investors to create less rental housing and increase home ownership, Biden’s plan uses tax breaks for state and local governments, the Fact Sheet states:
“[Biden] is calling on Congress to pass the innovative, bipartisan Neighborhood Homes Investment Act (NHIA). Offering $20 billion worth of NHIA tax credits over the next five years will result in approximately 500,000 homes built or rehabilitated, creating a pathway for more families to buy a home and start building wealth.”
Reuters reported on the shift from free markets to government control:
President Joe Biden is seeking to ease a national affordable housing shortage by pushing local governments to allow apartment buildings in neighborhoods that are currently restricted to single-family homes.
The $5 billion plan could inject the White House into a debate pitting older homeowners against younger workers seeking to gain a foothold in the most expensive U.S. cities, where many families spend a third or more of their income on housing.
The proposal, which would provide financial incentives to local governments that change zoning laws restricting many neighborhoods to single-family homes, is an example of the sort of broad social policy changes Democrats are including in Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure bill.
Biden’s plan even designates which workers will benefit from this housing project — “put union building trade workers to work upgrading homes and businesses to save families money,” the Fact Sheet states.’