March 12, 2024

Brown Introduces Yes In God’s Back Yard Act to Support Churches & Other Organizations Developing Affordable Housing

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, introduced the Yes In God’s Back Yard (YIGBY) Act, legislation to support faith-based organizations and colleges wanting to build and preserve affordable housing on their land and reduce barriers to the development of this housing.

“Housing is too expensive and too hard to find in almost every community in America,” said Brown. “This is a common sense solution – families need more housing, and churches, synagogues, and other religious organizations want to put their faith into action by developing housing on land they already own. By helping these institutions cut through red tape, we can lower the cost of housing and expand options in Ohio and around the country.”

The legislation has been endorsed by The Presbyterian Church (USA) Office of Public Witness, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, United Church of Christ, Enterprise Ohio, Affordable Housing Alliance of Central Ohio, Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, National Housing Law Project, National Low Income Housing Coalition, LeadingAge, and the National Association of Evangelicals.

Across the country, faith-based organizations and institutions of higher education are looking for ways to use additional land they already own to ease the housing crisis in their communities. While they might own the land, in many circumstances they are still restricted from using it to develop affordable rental housing due to local barriers like zoning and other policies. In other circumstances, they might be permitted to develop affordable rental housing, but are unsure how to begin. Senator Brown’s YIGBY Act:

  • Provides technical assistance to faith-based organizations and institutions of higher education wanting to use their existing land to increase or preserve the supply of affordable rental housing.
  • Provides technical assistance to local governments to learn best practices and how they can facilitate the production of affordable rental housing on land owned by faith-based organizations and institutions of higher education.
  • Creates challenge grants to provide additional resources to communities that adopt policies that remove barriers to the production and preservation of affordable rental housing on property owned by faith-based organizations and institutions of higher education.

Brown has long fought to lower the cost of housing for workers and families. In July 2023, Brown introduced the Stop Predatory Investing Act to restrict tax breaks for big corporate investors that buy up homes, often driving up local housing prices and rents. Last year, Brown also led his colleagues in urging the administration to utilize a “whole-of-government” approach to bring down housing costs.

The bill text is available here, and a one-pager is available here.