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Waters Delivers Opening Statement at Full Committee Hearing on The Need for Bold Investments in Fair and Affordable Housing to Combat Inflation

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, delivered the following statement at a full Committee hearing entitled, “Boom and Bust: The Need for Bold Investments in Fair and Affordable Housing to Combat Inflation.”

Good morning, everyone. First, I’d like to say that I am incredibly proud that this Committee has made it a top priority to ensure every family has access to fair and affordable housing across the country. Since becoming Chair in 2019, the Committee has held 55 hearings on housing, including the first-ever full Committee hearing on homelessness. However, the opposite side of the aisle has repeatedly complained about our focus on housing while offering no solutions to safely and affordably house families. With Republicans holding the majority next Congress, this will likely be our last hearing on housing affordability for the foreseeable future. But I know the Ranking Member is a good person so I hope he will prove me wrong. 

Unfortunately, our nation’s housing crisis is getting worse. Some believe that robust federal investments in fair and affordable housing aren’t needed—that deregulation and the private market alone will solve this crisis. But decades of dismal federal investment in housing have landed us in the current housing crisis and we cannot expect different outcomes without different interventions. Today, there is no metropolitan area in the country where families can afford a home making minimum wage. A chronic undersupply of housing has led to skyrocketing costs and today, housing is a primary driver of core inflation. While the Federal Reserve has leaned on interest rate hikes in hopes of curing inflation—including four super-sized rate hikes this year alone—those hikes do nothing to address the fundamental shortage of affordable housing, and in fact, make it worse.  

These hikes have made lending more costly, pricing first-time and first-generation homebuyers out of the market to record lows by adding to the already-high costs of purchasing a home. Housing construction has also slowed due to increased lending costs, exacerbating the existing supply shortage. The Fed cannot address inflation alone. That’s why last year, my Committee fought to secure over $150 billion in fair and affordable housing investments in the House, which would reduce core inflation by addressing the root cause of our inadequate housing supply. These investments are estimated to create more than 1.4 million affordable homes, help 868,000 families lower their housing costs, and create jobs that will boost local economies. Without these targeted investments, we will never fully address housing inflation. Instead, we will continue to face a homelessness crisis and skyrocketing rents. And, homeownership will move further out of reach for everyday people, while private equity firms and banks like JP Morgan Chase gobble up more and more homes for profit.  

We need bipartisan support for bold investments to make housing affordable and finally rein in core inflation. 

With that, I yield back.

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