Housing Experts: Build Back Better could improve RGV with more affordable housing

Local News

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act, a social safety net that aims to support the needs of the middle class.

One item on the nearly $1.7 trillion bill is affordable housing, and some local housing experts said the extra funding is desperately needed in the Rio Grande Valley.

“In an area like ours, in the area of work that many area non-profits that work in affordable housing, this is huge,” said Nick-Mitchell Bennett, Executive Director of the affordable housing non-profit Come Dream Come Build.

This week, the U.S. Senate will review the Act and cast votes on passing it or not.

The plan entails $150 billion for affordable housing nationwide and Bennett said organizations like the CDCB will have to apply for the funding.

Bennett explained, although the Rio Grande Valley is growing, there are not enough homes.

“You know we can have all the wonderful things that are happening here like SpaceX and the [University of Texas Rio Grande Valley] is growing, and the hospital system growing, but if we don’t have places for people to live then it is going to be really hard to sustain that,” said Bennett.

Another affordable housing non-profit in San Juan called Proyecto Azteca is another organization that would benefit from this fund.

Assistant executive director Amber Arriaga-Salinas said the cost of building has put their organization in a tough place.

“We currently cannot find a half-acre lot of land in an area considered rural for under $45,000. Our region is in such great need for decent and affordable housing,” said Arriaga-Salinas.

Salinas explained there are many families in the Rio Grande Valley that are forced into small living spaces because they have no other option.

“The funding from Build Back Better would be such an incredible opportunity for those who live in substandard and or overcrowded situations,” said Arriaga-Salinas.

Bennett said the $150 billion allotments could create a permanent impact on rates of homeownership. Homeownership is key to a stronger economy and community, according to Bennett.

“Allow them to plan for the future as well as building equity in their property and that equity is called inner generational transferred wealth, transferring that equity from you to your children, that is how wealth is created and that’s what makes a strong economy,” said Bennett.

You can keep up with the progress of the bill on the Congress of the United States website.

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