U.S. Senator Tina Smith Named Chair of Housing, Transportation & Community Development Subcommittee

WASHINGTON, D.C. [3/2/21]—Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) announced that she has been named Chair of a key Senate Banking Subcommittee that oversees important aspects of the nation’s housing, transportation and community development policies.

Sen Smith said Tuesday that besides being tapped to lead the Housing, Transportation and Community Development Subcommittee, she will also serve on Securities, Insurance and Investment Subcommittee, and the Economic Policy Subcommittee, as part of serving on the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee.

“We need to stand up for consumers, improve access to public transportation, work to ensure fair access to financial services for all Americans, and make sure every American has a safe, stable, affordable place to live,” said Sen. Smith. “With these goals top of mind, I’m pleased to serve as Chair of the Housing, Transportation and Community Development Subcommittee, and serve on the Economic Policy and Securities, and Insurance and Investment Subcommittees. We have important work to do.” 

Since joining the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Smith has made addressing Minnesota’s housing shortage a top priority. In 2019, she led a statewide housing listening tour, which found that virtually every community in the state—rural, suburban and urban—has a shortage of quality, affordable places to live. The problem affects not only families, but also limits job growth and economic development in areas with growing populations.

After hearing from rural communities in these affordable housing listening sessions, Sen. Smith and Republican Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota successfully enacted a bipartisan measure to extend the length of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rental assistance contracts to give more certainty to affordable housing developers in rural areas. Before it became law, rental assistance contracts were only available for one year at a time. Now, properties can secure rental assistance for up to 20 years, which will make it easier for developers to take advantage of other federal assistance, like the Low Income Housing Tax Credit. Sen. Smith also worked with Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida to pass a provision to ensure that USDA prioritizes maintenance and repairs so that rural families can have a safe, affordable place to live.

Sen. Smith has also focused on addressing the affordable housing shortage and crisis of homelessness on Tribal lands. At the end of last year, Sen. Smith’s Tribal Access to Homeless Assistance Act was signed into law, making Tribes eligible for Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) homeless assistance through the Continuum of Care Program. Sen. Smith also worked with Sen. Rounds to pass the Native American Housing Affordability Act, to make it easier for Native households to secure mortgages on Tribal trust land.  

Finally, Sen. Smith has worked to increase the overall stock of affordable housing, and to encourage innovative solutions to the affordable housing crisis. She worked with Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada to pass a bipartisan bill to require that any new regulation made by HUD takes into account the impact of the new rule on owners of manufactured homes, and on the production and sale of manufactured homes. Sen. Smith has also supported bipartisan legislation that requires recipients of community development funds from HUD to report on any discriminatory land use policies that may be impacting the supply of affordable housing.