House Democrats propose housing, healthcare infrastructure package

Legislation | June 19, 2020 | by Juliana Bilowich

The infrastructure package proposes $2.5 billion for senior housing, as well as broadband connectivity, health center upgrades, and other infrastructure investments.

On June 18th, House Democrats introduced a new bill titled the “Moving Forward Act,” which would invest $1.5 trillion to improve the nation’s housing, roads, bridges, schools, and broadband access. LeadingAge has urged lawmakers to include senior housing and other supports for older adults in any infrastructure initiatives.

The bill includes the following investments for older adults:

  • For senior housing, the bill proposes $2.5 billion available until 2023. The funds would go toward new construction capital advances for Section 202, as well as for rental assistance and supportive services. Ten percent of the funds would target projects with environmental sustainability components. 
  • For internet access, the bill proposes $9 billion to establish a broadband benefit program that entitles households with a member who qualifies for Lifeline, or are recently unemployed to receive a $50 benefit to put toward the monthly price of internet service. The service would benefit many older adults with low incomes living in HUD-assisted households. 

The proposal comes amidst record high unemployment numbers since the start of the pandemic and is meant to spur the economy. Infrastructure is largely seen as a bipartisan issue, and House Democrats expect to move the proposal forward before the July 4th congressional recess.

  • For affordable housing in general, the proposal invests over $100 billion into affordable housing infrastructure to either create or preserve 1.8 million affordable homes. The bill includes $70 billion for the public housing capital fund, $5 billion for the HOME program, $2.5 billion for both Sectons 811 and 202, and $10 billion for CDBG. Overall, the proposal also aims to create more disaster-resilient communities and households by reducing housing inequality and increasing environmental sustainability throughout the housing stock.
  • For housing tax credits, the proposal expands the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) with targeted housing investments for rural, tribal, or homeless populations; the bill also creates a new tax credit to spur owner-occupied investments into vacant homes and distressed areas.
  • For broadband, the bill aims to close gaps in broadband and digital skills, and enhances payments support for low income households. The proposal targets $100 billion for internet infrastructure for undeserved communities; increased internet access and telehealth connectivity for senior housing communities has been one of LeadingAge’s key advocacy efforts throughout the pandemic.
  • For healthcare, the proposal invests in hospital upgrades, community health centers responding to COVID-19, and other community-based care settings.

The proposal also targets billions in investments for the U.S. Postal Service, public lands, clean energy, drinking water, roads, and schools. The high cost of the proposal is expected to face resistance in the Republican-led Senate. The bill sponsors have made a factsheet available.