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Officials must act now for affordable housing

Voters have cast their ballots, and now it’s time for elected officials to come together and work on urgent housing needs in Northeast Michigan. That’s the message that Habitat for Humanity Northeast Michigan is sending as critical housing protections are set to expire, putting at risk families across the area.

Here in Northeast Michigan, the need for a safe and decent home has been critically important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We need our local, state and federal officials to act now to support policies that will give people greater access to safe, decent and affordable homes.

Through Habitat’s “Cost of Home” national advocacy campaign, Habitat for Humanity Northeast Michigan is joining a call to Congress to pass a set of priorities to provide immediate housing relief, including mortgage and rental payment assistance that will help stave off a looming eviction and foreclosure crisis, which would disproportionately impact communities of color. Federal housing protections, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium and the moratorium on foreclosures of homes backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are due to expire Dec. 31, 2020.

Habitat for Humanity Northeast Michigan is also calling on newly elected and reelected policymakers at all levels of government to treat housing as infrastructure and economic recovery as they set their 2021 legislative agendas by including robust funding to build affordable homes, as well as ensuring equitable access to healthy housing and communities of opportunity.

Habitat is committed to continuing its housing advocacy by working with elected officials at all levels of government to create and implement policy solutions that will enable access to affordable homes for 10 million people in the U.S. over the course of our five-year “Cost of Home” campaign.

No one should have to choose between putting food on the table or having a safe place to sleep at night because the cost of housing is too high. It’s critical that we get this right. We challenge every lawmaker to acknowledge the individuals and families in our communities who need greater housing stability — and do something about it.

Ted Fines is executive director of Habitat for Humanity Northeast Michigan.

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