WQAD News 8 By Maggie Wedlake August 31, 2021

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on increased access to housing and pre-k in rural areas

President Biden’s two trillion-dollar American Families Plan bill is still working its way through negotiations in the House and Senate, but Democrats are positive the bill will pass.

One focus of the bill is creating better access to affordable housing. Right now, one in four rural renters pay over half their income in rent. The general rule of thumb is that you should pay less that 30% of your income on rent. The American Families Plan vows to build over one million new affordable housing units across the country.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says it’s about giving more money to those trying to establish affordable housing, and making sure the programs stay up to par.

Vilsack saying, “If landlords get paid the rent that’s owed to them, and they get federal assistance, they’ll have the resources to basically provide the ability to repair the roof or to upgrade the facilities or to make investments to make sure that the affordable housing is also decent housing.”

According to Humility Homes, here in the Quad Cities there are only 37 available affordable units for every 100 low income renter households.

Another staple of the bill is providing access to preschool education for all children in America. Biden specifically targets young students in rural areas in the bill. As of now, one third of rural children enter kindergarten without pre-k education.

Vilsack saying, “You don’t have to worry about the cost of childcare, because now the government is basically saying you’re not going to have to pay more than 7% of your income. You also have a childcare and adult care dependent tax credit that can provide up to $8,000 of assistance and benefit off of your taxes or maybe $16,000, depending upon if you have more than one child.”

The $3.5 trillion-dollar plan has main efforts to increase access to early education, lower healthcare costs, and increase affordable housing.