By: Brian Tang
The Build Back Better Act is a bill created by House Committees that would spend approximately $327 billion for a wide range of housing spending, including $90 billion for permanent rental assistance ($75 billion for vouchers and $15 billion for project-based rental assistance), $80 billion for public housing repair and renovation, and $37 billion for the National Housing Trust Fund, which would build new and affordable units to people with vouchers or extremely low income.
Because this bill is proceeding through the Congressional budget reconciliation process, this bill is also referred to as the “reconciliation” bill. In other words, it isn’t subject to filibuster and only needs 50 Senate votes to pass. However, the bill will likely receive little to no support from Republican Senators, so all 50 Democratic Senators would have to support the bill in order for it to pass.
In early October, there was a large effort to complete the Build Back Better bill before the House of Representatives went on recess, but there are still some Democrats who disagree about the size and content of the package. Some Democratic Senators have advocated for a substantially smaller size of the bill, and President Biden has indicated that this will be the likely outcome. As of now, the goal is to finish the Build Back Better bill and pass it by the end of October. Per request from the White House, this bill is also being considered jointly as a package with the “bipartisan infrastructure bill,” which contains nothing for housing or other priorities related to homelessness.
Lastly, the Build Back Better bill will only pass if members of Congress hear that people truly care about the resources being allocated to help homeless people and others with low incomes. If the bill were to pass, it would have a substantial impact on the homelessness crisis and housing instability in America. Many national advocacy organizations, such as the Alliance, have been reaching out to advocates around the country and raising awareness about the bill in hopes of recruiting more support.