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CHICAGO — Affordable housing and economic development are both part of President Joe Biden’s massive infrastructure proposal.

On Tuesday, Marcia Fudge, the secretary of housing and urban development, was in Chicago to drum up support for the plan. One of the highlights for Fudge, the tour of 45 affordable housing apartments in the city’s Pilsen neighborhood.

“It’s time to look up and decide who we are,” Fudge said.

In Washington, negotiations continue over a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, including funding for most of President Joe Biden’s major domestic priorities, including education, climate security, and healthcare.  

Tucked into the bill, more than $325 billion for housing would provide down payment assistance for lower-income families and rental assistance. In addition, the bill could shore up funding for major cities programs like Chicago’s Housing Authority.  

“If the bills get passed, that will exponentially increase the opportunities,” said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

State and local leaders say the money is needed and will be used to correct long-term neglect for those in need, though it comes with a massive price tag for taxpayers. 

“We need it now because we’re all still recovering from the pandemic,” said Gov. JB Pritzker. “The pandemic is still here. We still have a significant depression of our economy that exists all over the nation as a result of the pandemic.”

Fudge said the lack of affordable housing in the nation is a crisis.

“There is nowhere in this country today or a person making minimum wage to afford a two-bedroom apartment. Nowhere. We know that renters are behind on their rent because of COVID. But I would say to you, if we cannot fix this now, I do not know if this can be fixed.”