Reed’s National Housing Trust Fund Law Delivers $3 Million to Help RI Build More Affordable Housing

WASHINGTON, DC – As a result of a law written by U.S. Senator Jack Reed, Rhode
Island will receive $3 million this year to help create affordable rental housing in
communities throughout the state. Senator Reed created the National Housing Trust
Fund (HTF) in 2008 as part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act, to enable
housing agencies to build, preserve, and rehabilitate affordable housing for Rhode
Island residents with limited means.

“This is great news for Rhode Island. I created the Housing Trust Fund to provide
communities with the resources they need to help address the affordable housing
shortage. Many of our neighbors who work hard still can’t afford their rents, and
our state has a real need for more affordable housing opportunities,” said Senator
Reed. “Affordable housing helps workers live closer to their jobs and spend more
time with their families. A healthy housing market is key to future economic growth
and vibrant communities where people want to live and work. These federal funds
will help the state preserve and increase the number of affordable homes and
strengthen our communities.”

Administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the HTF
is an affordable housing production and preservation program that will complement
existing federal, state, and local efforts to increase and preserve the supply of
decent, safe, and sanitary affordable housing for extremely low-income and very
low-income households, including homeless families. This year, the HTF will provide
more than $170 million dollars to states to build, preserve, and rehabilitate rental
homes.

To ensure that Rhode Island and other small states received a fair amount of
funding, Senator Reed included a small state minimum of $3 million in the
authorizing legislation.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), there is currently a
nationwide shortage of 7.2 million affordable and available rental units for
America’s 10.4 million extremely low income renter households, defined as those at
or below 30% of median income in their communities.

The NLIHC’s 2016 State Housing Profile for Rhode
Island shows that 41 percent of
Rhode Island households rent their homes and that in order to afford a modest,
two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent within the state, renters need to earn
$18.49 per hour, which is almost double Rhode Island’s minimum wage of $9.60 per
hour. The NIHLC also reports that Rhode Island has a deficit of 31,845 housing
units for extremely low-income renters.

A recent report by HousingWorks RI also found that roughly 3,500 units of new
affordable housing are necessary each year to meet the needs of Rhode Islanders,
particularly millennials and retired adults, through 2025.

“The initial distribution of National Housing Trust Funds is a smart step toward
strengthening our economy and expanding the supply of affordable rental housing
across the country. It will allow more renters to find the home they need at a
price they can afford and can also help spur local economic development,” said
Senator Reed, who first began working on affordable housing trust fund legislation
back in 2000.

The HTF was created in 2008, but was not funded by the two government-sponsored
enterprises (GSE), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, before they were placed into
conservatorship later that year. In late 2014, the Federal Housing Finance Agency
(FHFA), which currently oversees Fannie and Freddie, independently determined that
the financial operations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have stabilized to a
sufficient level to permit contributions to the HTF.