June 27, 2023

Scott Op-Ed in The Hill: President Biden’s (Un)Affordable Housing Policies

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, authored the following op-ed in The Hill, voicing opposition to the Biden administration’s ineffective policies that have made housing less affordable across America. As an alternative, the Ranking Member outlined the ROAD to Housing Act, his legislative framework that would increase housing supply, promote affordability, improve quality of life for families, and promote economic opportunity in communities nationwide.

President Biden’s (Un)Affordable Housing Policies
U.S. Senator Tim Scott
The Hill
June 27, 2023

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently hosted its annual “Innovative Housing Showcase,” which featured American-made homes built by companies from across the country using cutting-edge construction techniques.

From 3-D printed homes to factory-built manufactured housing, these houses represent American innovation and capitalism. They are also very different from the drafty, small rental I grew up in. These houses are far nicer, and better yet, they are affordable. 

During the HUD showcase, Biden administration officials made lofty promises to the American public about how they would create more affordable housing. But actions speak much louder than words, and if you scrutinize President Biden’s track record on affordable housing, you will see that his policies make housing in America less affordable and less accessible.

Within weeks of taking office, President Biden cowed to pressure from big-labor unions and ended the Department of Labor’s Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Program, which would have produced thousands of newly trained workers across the skilled trades. America is already suffering from a dearth of construction and trade workers— President Biden’s decision to kill this program will only make it worse. Common sense dictates that we should not be limiting new housing construction. Rather, we should train the workforce we need to build more homes for American families. This is why I am sounding the alarm and cosponsoring the Training America’s Workforce Act, which would reinstate this key training and apprenticeship program.

Lumber prices soared to all-time highs during the pandemic, driving up raw material costs for home construction. Prices have started to settle, but instead of advocating for affordable lumber harvested domestically, President Biden reinstated logging bans in our National Forests to appease environmental activists. This Administration’s progressive, environmental virtue signaling only makes home construction more expensive.

Just a few weeks ago, the Supreme Court decided that President Biden’s expansive Waters of the United States (WOTUS) regulation was an obvious overreach by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Had the Court not acted, the WOTUS rule would have expanded federal jurisdiction over drainage ditches and puddles across the country, increasing permitting delays and construction costs, or preventing housing development altogether.

Perhaps the most glaring example of President Biden’s upside-down housing policy comes from the Department of Energy (DoE), which is preparing to implement energy-efficiency mandates on manufactured homes. The industry estimates these mandates could increase the purchase price by upwards of $10,000, while reducing design choices for consumers. These added regulatory costs would be imposed on the very same homes that HUD featured on the National Mall.

After I pointed out to Energy Secretary,  Jennifer Granholm, that low-income families shouldn’t bear the artificial costs imposed by climate alarmists, DoE delayed implementation of this rule. If this Administration actually wanted to make housing more affordable, they would scrap it entirely.

The cost of these unnecessary regulations is far too high, especially for families who grew up like I did. But, when you add these cost increases on top of the price hikes homebuyers are facing from inflation, the unfortunate result is that many are being priced out of the American Dream of homeownership. President Biden and congressional Democrats’ reckless spending has caused the highest inflation in over forty years. Interest rate hikes needed to bring down inflation have essentially doubled mortgage rates. The amount families have to pay each month has grown by more than 50 percent since January 2022 for the exact same home.

This pattern is a familiar one. For decades, Democrats in Washington have repeated the cycle of overregulation leading to higher costs, followed by increased subsidies and reduced lending standards. The net result of these policies is an African American homeownership rate that has largely remained unchanged since 1968, when it was legal and common to prohibit minority families like mine from purchasing a home. Despite fifty-five years since the passage of the Fair Housing Act, trillions of taxpayer dollars spent on federal housing subsidies, and more red tape than ever before, the American Dream of homeownership remains out of reach for far too many. American families looking for an affordable place to call home are the ones to pay the price.

I urge Washington to try a new approach. My legislative framework, the Renewing Opportunity in the American Dream, or ROAD to Housing Act, makes targeted reforms to existing federal programs in order to increase housing supply, promote affordability, improve quality of life for families, and provide economic opportunity in communities across the nation. If Democrats and this Administration are actually serious about affordable housing, they should get behind a serious solution to address soaring costs and positively impact American families.

Read the full article here.