New Bill Calls Upon Faith-Based Organizations to Develop Affordable Housing

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, current Chair of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, has 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 architects behind the bill

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.

Faith-based organizations and institutions of higher education nationwide 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 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.

Major points of the YIGBY Act

Senator Brown’s YIGBY Act, as currently proposed, will:

  • 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.

According to data from Zillow, the United States is estimated to have a shortage of at least 4.3 million homes. And according to a recent report from the Nation Low Income Housing Coalition, for extremely low-income families, it is estimated that there is a shortage of seven million affordable and available rental homes.

Governmental steps to boost affordable housing

Sen. 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.

Sen. Brown’s introduction of the YIGBY Act comes just days after President Biden’s State of the Union Address where he outlined a number of new goals to make housing more affordable for Americans nationwide. President Biden discussed the creation of a temporary, two-year tax credit that will give homeowners $400 a month to put towards their mortgages when they buy a first home or trade their home in for one with a little more, or less, space as their needs change.

The Commander in Chief also announced that he is directing federal agencies to eliminate title insurance fee requirements for federally backed refinance loans. He stated this move alone will save the average homeowner $1,000 or more in refinancing fees.

President Biden discussed the struggle of renters against big corporate landlords by enforcing antitrust laws to battle perceived price-fixing schemes in the market perpetrated by the large-scale adoption of rental software from a handful of providers.

He is also reducing barriers so builders can get more federal financing, which will help build a record 1.7 million dwellings nationwide.

He then called upon Congress to make his housing plan a law that will build and renovate two million affordable homes, which should also bring down rental prices for those that do not own a home.

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Eric C. Peck

Eric C. Peck

Eric C. Peck has 25-plus years’ experience covering the mortgage industry, most recently serving as Editor-in-Chief for National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He graduated from the New York Institute of Technology, where he received his B.A. in Communication Arts/Media. After graduating, he began his professional career with Videography Magazine before landing in the mortgage space. Peck has edited three published books, and has served as Copy Editor for Entrepreneur.com.
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