It's no secret that some communities across the United States are disproportionately affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. More resources need to be allocated to these suffering communities to help every family participate in the nation's recovery and future growth.
On October 28, 2021, President Joe Biden announced the framework for the Build Back Better Act, which passed on November 19. Multiple issues are being tackled in the document — for example, fixing the nation’s broken immigration system, allowing the middle class to thrive, and making crucial infrastructure improvements to benefit citizens.
Below are some of the goals outlined in the Build Back Better Act to bring more equity to U.S. communities and other goals the Act hopes to achieve.
Bringing Equity to More U.S. Communities
How exactly will President Biden’s plan benefit communities in need? Let’s explore some of the legislation’s details to better understand what actions the administration will take to improve the lives of Americans.
Combat Climate Change
Many countries are working toward net-zero carbon emissions due to the Paris Agreement, and the Build Back Better plan includes ways to combat climate change.
The construction industry contributes to carbon emissions — the sector accounts for 40% of global GHG emissions. Some of the climate goals of the plan include:
- Cut greenhouse gas pollution (by over 1 gigaton) by 2030
- Reduce energy costs for consumers
- Create thousands of high-quality energy sector jobs
- Provide a healthier environment with clean air and water
- Advance environmental justice with an advanced clean energy economy
- Enacting smart climate practices across land and water
The effects of climate change disproportionately impact communities of color and low-income communities. There are clear racial disparities in climate change, and environmental justice is something Build Back Better will hopefully address.
Reimagining Public Transportation
The plan allocates $9.75 billion to enhance the existing transportation infrastructure and improve mobility, especially in low-income and disadvantaged communities. There may be high-speed rail options in the next few decades as a result of the Build Back Better plan.
The plan will also make public transportation more sustainable, which offers plenty of benefits to the environment, such as less pollution and healthier Americans.
Roads that were built under racially insensitive or hostile policies in the past, such as highways in low-income communities, are likely to be destroyed due to the passing of this Act. Removal of highways can accomplish two things: disrupt systemic racism and mitigate the effects of climate change.
Public, Affordable Housing and Rental Assistance
Also included in the Build Back Better plan is $170 billion to help with the nation’s housing crises. The funding for housing will consist of:
- $65 billion to preserve, rebuild, or reconstruct public housing. This will help prevent health hazards, improve energy efficiency, and make communities more resilient in the face of natural disasters.
- $25 billion to fund federal housing vouchers, which reduces homelessness and helps lower-income families afford housing.
- $24 billion for Housing Choice Vouchers, which will help an estimated 300,000 low-income households.
- About $15 billion to preserve over 150,000 rental properties for low-income families.
It’s easy for some properties to become overgrown. Supporting construction with more funding can help companies clear land to build new and improved affordable housing.
Reducing homelessness is something many government officials see as a priority, as those without a place to call home end up using resources rather than contributing income. Providing housing will allow more Americans to live safely and join the workforce.
While these are only some examples of what is included in Biden’s Build Back Better Act, the full framework has even more goals that the administration will try to achieve in the long term.
Achieving Equity Through the Build Back Better Plan
The Biden Administration has made it clear that the plan hopes to achieve equity through the various measures listed above, among others. It’ll be interesting to see how the plan can improve the lives of marginalized groups in the United States.
Jane is the editor-in-chief of Environment.co where she covers green technology, sustainable building and environmental news.