The Faircloth Amendment Explained
The Faircloth is one of the most important obstacles to expanding affordable public housing in the U.S.
The U.S. Government has been providing affordable, permanent housing for over 1.8 million families through public housing. Public housing serves a critical role in the nation’s rental market, providing stable, affordable homes for households with low incomes. The families who live in public housing include some of the nation’s most disadvantaged citizens, including older adults, people with disabilities, and working families with young children.
Housing authorities across the country operate under “Faircloth Limits,” the number of units eligible for federal funding under the amendment. But funding constraints often result in limits that are higher than the number of units currently maintained.
Not to be confused with other housing subsidy programs, public housing is housing stock that is owned by HUD (U.S. Government) and administered by local Public Housing Authorities (PHAs). Public housing comes in all sizes and types, from scattered single-family houses to high rise apartments for elderly families.
In 1998, through the Faircloth Amendment, the U.S. Government created an artificial barrier by limiting the number of public housing units that federal authorities could build and has resulted in many people being left without a home. This amendment prevents any net increase in public housing stock from the number of units as of October 1, 1999. Simply put, the Faircloth Amendment sets a cap on the number of units any public housing authority (PHA) could own and operate, effectively halting new construction of public housing. This prevents policymakers from using a vital tool, building more permanent affordable housing, to address our nation’s growing housing and homelessness crisis.
In the two decades since the Faircloth Amendment passed, rent costs have skyrocketed while average incomes have not. The median inflation-adjusted rent has increased 13.0 percent since 2001, while the median inflation-adjusted renter’s income has only increased 0.5 percent during that same period. This obstacle in creating more affordable housing that the amendment created, is happening while there is a $70 billion backlog in funding for maintenance and repairs to existing public housing stock.
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