Biden to announce funding for affordable housing, broadband in jobs plan

Exclusive: Part two of President Joe Biden's infrastructure plan shifts the focus to supporting American families

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President Joe Biden has placed jobs at the center of his pandemic response efforts, and on Wednesday, the president will announce part two of his infrastructure plan that shifts the focus to supporting families.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks from the Treaty Room in the White House about the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan on April 14, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images)

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A portion of the president’s jobs plan includes $213 billion in new low-income and affordable housing, as well as $40 billion for the repair, maintenance and weatherization of existing public housing. Removal of lead water pipes is at the cornerstone of the repair funds, and an additional $200,000 is allocated for new housing vouchers.

The housing effort also includes outfitting these new properties with broadband and high-speed internet for virtual learning and working. This is a major portion of the president’s soon-to-be announced American Families Plan.

“America’s infrastructure is falling apart,” Vice President Kamala Harris said in a recent interview with theGrio. “We need to not only to do more than a patch work repair, we actually need to build an America for the 21st century.”

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during a virtual Leaders Summit on Climate with 40 world leaders in the East Room of the White House April 22, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Al Drago-Pool/Getty Images)

theGrio inquired if the administration would marry the two ideas of infrastructure and the needs of American families to get their plans successfully through Congress. 

“The American people are right to want to see their elected leaders work on the issues that keep them up at night,” Vice President Harris added. “Of the policy areas, of the things that we can work on as far as the United States government, one of the things that should always be not again, not only bipartisan but not nonpartisan.”

Cecilia Rouse of the Council of Economic Advisors expects the plan to put the United States on track for a comeback.  

“We see the signs of regeneration in our economy but we are not there yet,” said Rouse. She added the United States was “8.4 million jobs below where we were a year ago.”

“The second part of the [infrastructure] plan is to make transformational investments,” according to Rouse, “is not just that we have growth but growth that is widely shared.”

The next president has handpicked labor economist Cecilia Rouse, the dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, to be the chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers, according to reporting from The Wall Street Journal.

She maintains that the plan is a whole of government approach that also seeks to address the inequity in the Black and brown unemployment numbers.  

Part of the president’s plan ensures 40% of the contracting goes to minority contractors in government procurement to further help close the nation’s persistent wealth. 

President Biden is enjoying a 52% approval rating this week according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll as he marks 100 days in office. Much of that approval rating has to do with the president’s take on the economy that includes job creation. On the flip side of the approval rating is 42% who disapprove of his job performance.   

In 2020, 9.8% of families included an unemployed person, twice the figure of 4.9% the year prior. The increase in unemployment among families reflects the effect of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the labor market. Of the nation’s 83.1 million families, 78.2% had at least one employed member in 2020.

Current Republican economic opposition for the $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan is coming from Republicans and Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who are questioning the White House’s projects that do not have a direct infrastructure link. One of the main points of contention is the money for Black farmers that South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham has characterized as reparations.

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