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Pritzker, Biden administration highlight affordable housing incentives in ‘Build Back Better’ agenda

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Gov. JB Pritzker and other state leaders met with the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Tuesday to discuss President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda. They hope Congress can pass the plan to improve investments in housing, economic development, and community revitalization.

Pritzker invited Secretary Marcia Fudge to tour a brand new affordable housing complex in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood to highlight ways to reinvest in communities. The federal “Build Back Better” challenge has already helped boost economic recovery throughout the country. Now, the Biden administration hopes their $1 trillion infrastructure plan can expand upon that.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says the city and state can show more families solid, affordable housing options if Congress passes the bill. Illinois previously distributed over $443 million to people in need of financial aid for rent and mortgage payments.

“We’ve done such a good job,” Pritzker said. “And we’re so far ahead of other states, that we’re now able to ask the federal government to redistribute dollars that are unused from other states to have them come to the state of Illinois.”

Pritzker said 56,000 landlords and tenants received the initial funds from the state’s housing assistance program.

Significant investments for affordable housing

Secretary Fudge says communities need to make it easier for people to live decent lives. She said most people making minimum wage can’t afford a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the country right now. Fudge also says everyone in the country who wants to own a home should own one. She stressed the president’s plan could help them.

However, building housing isn’t a cheap task. The Biden administration hopes to have significant investments for new homes if Congress approves the massive infrastructure plan. Fudge also highlighted some of the possibilities under the administration’s equity-based community housing effort.

“If you are burdened with student loan debt, we are going to neutralize that debt so you can become credit worthy. If you need a down payment on your home, we’re going to help you get one,” Fudge said. “We’re going to have mortgages now that are 40 years instead of 30 to help bring down the cost of your mortgage payments monthly.”

Fudge says the country must also root out the systemic racism that has historically kept Black and brown families from owning homes. She said it’s time for America to treat every person with the dignity and respect they deserve.

Still, Washington Democrats haven’t reached an agreement on the infrastructure plan. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hopes to pass a bipartisan proposal by the end of October.

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Mike Miletich

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