Today,as millions of Americans struggle to find a safe, affordable place to call home and homelessness continues to rise, U.S. Representatives Darin LaHood (IL-16) and Suzan DelBene (WA-01), and Senators Maria Cantwell (WA) and Todd Young (IN) introduced bipartisan legislation to build nearly 2 million new affordable homes over the next decade.
The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act would support the financing of more affordable housing by expanding and strengthening the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit), our country’s most successful affordable housing program. The bill is led by Representatives LaHood, DelBene, Brad Wenstrup (OH-02), Don Beyer (VA-08), Jimmy Panetta (CA-19), and Claudia Tenney (NY-24), and Senators Cantwell, Young, Ron Wyden (OR), and Marsha Blackburn (TN). The bill has over 60 bipartisan original cosponsors in the House.
The nationwide housing crisis continues to worsen. Currently, nearly one-in-four renters, over 10 million families, spend more than half of their household income on rent, cutting into other essential expenses like child care, medication, groceries, and transportation. At the same time, nearly 600,000 Americans are experiencing homelessness on any given day, an increase over pre-COVID levels.
“Affordable housing is vital for families throughout Illinois and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit continues to be an important tool to drive investment in the affordable rental housing market," said LaHood. “As I travel throughout communities in the 16th District of Illinois, I constantly hear about the affordable housing crisis, especially in our rural areas. This bipartisan bill will modernize the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and help expand our housing supply, strengthening communities and supporting economic development in Illinois and across the county.”
“As I travel the country, in nearly every community – urban to rural, red to blue – I hear how the lack of affordable housing is stretching family budgets and making it harder for employers to find workers. We know that stable housing increases the likelihood of stable employment and stable families,” said DelBene. “The scale of the affordable housing crisis is immense and it requires bold solutions. Passing our legislation will help jumpstart more affordable housing construction so more Americans can put a roof over their heads and better provide for their families.”
“Too many families are paying too much just to keep a roof over their heads. Securing more affordable housing is key to our economic growth and individual families' success,” said Cantwell. “This legislation would increase the federal resources allocated to each state, cut the red tape that hinders financing for workforce housing, better serve people most in need, and ultimately add more than 64,000 affordable units to Washington’s housing stock over the next decade.”
“My community, like many others around the country, is facing a crisis in affordable housing,” said Beyer. “This bill would expand and update the most effective tool for financing affordable housing, and take a big step forward in addressing the massive need for affordable housing across the nation.”
“In Indiana and across the nation, affordable housing is needed now more than ever. The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act will leverage private sector investment to increase the stock of affordable housing for families in both urban and rural communities. Our bipartisan bill tackles the housing affordability crisis head on to help Hoosier families and strengthen our communities,” said Young.
“When it comes to solutions for affordable housing there’s no substitute for increasing supply. The centerpiece of this proposal is the largest-ever expansion of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, which is the most effective program on the books for getting more affordable units built in Oregon and nationwide,” said Wyden. “On the Senate Finance Committee there is bipartisan interest in tackling the affordable housing crisis. With this proposal, Senators Cantwell and Young, along with our House colleagues, have laid out a cornerstone of that effort. I’m going to keep working with my colleagues because I believe there’s an opportunity to bring big housing ideas together and pass a bill in this Congress.”
“In the 19th Congressional District, it can be very difficult to find affordable housing,” said Rep. Panetta. “The bipartisan Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act would expand and strengthen our housing credits in order to incentivize the construction of over 500,000 affordable housing units around the country and double the number of projects the State of California. The housing crisis is a challenge, but through innovative, commonsensical solutions like this legislation, we can do something about it and build a more sustainable future in our community.”
"The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act is bipartisan legislation that leverages private investments to increase access to affordable housing for low-income families in rural communities,” said Tenney. “Since 1986, the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit has supported the development of over 7,810 homes and 12,780 jobs in New York's 24th District alone. I am eager to see this bill's positive impacts on our community grow and am committed to working with my colleagues in Congress to ensure this valuable program continues to support those who need it most, especially those in rural areas across NY-24 who face a shortage of affordable housing options."
"Americans should be empowered and have the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty. Making sure there is enough safe, affordable housing for those who qualify is one way to achieve this, and a need I hear across Southern Ohio. I am proud to once again lead the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act with my colleagues to help strengthen and expand the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program. In addition to growing affordable housing development across our communities, this legislation will also help homeless youth and veterans who seek access to affordable housing while pursuing an education. Affordable housing is one step towards the American dream, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this bipartisan and bicameral bill," said Wenstrup.
Since its creation, the Housing Credit has built or restored more than 3.5 million affordable housing units, nearly 90% of all federally funded affordable housing during that time. Roughly 8 million American households have benefitted from the credit, and the economic activity that it generated has supported 5.5 million jobs and generated more than $617 billion in wages.
“Housing has become a top issue across the country, with communities of all sizes and types experiencing significant shortages. The Housing Credit is the number one federal tool for building and preserving rental homes that are within reach for families and individuals struggling to make ends meet. We commend this bipartisan, bicameral group of congressional leaders on the introduction of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, which would both expand and strengthen the Housing Credit,” said the Steering Committee of the ACTION Campaign, a coalition of over 2,400 national, state, and local organizations and businesses. “Since its inception in 1986, the Housing Credit has created 3.7 million homes for over 8 million households, but more resources are needed. Congress should move swiftly to enact this critical legislation to address our affordable housing crisis and build strong, vibrant, and equitable communities where everyone has a stable and secure place to call home.”
The bill would support the financing of nearly 2 million new affordable homes by:
Increasing the amount of credits allocated to each state.The legislation would increase the number of credits available to states by 50 percent for the next two years and make the temporary 12.5 percent increasesecured in 2018 permanent—which has already helped build more than 59,000 additional affordable housing units nationwide.
Increasing the number of affordable housing projects that can be built using private activity bonds.This provision would stabilize financing for workforce housing projects built using private activity bonds by decreasing the amount of private activity bonds needed to secure Housing Credit funding. As a result, projects would have to carry less debt, and more projects would be eligible to receive funding.
Improving the Housing Credit program to better serve at-risk and underserved communities.The legislation would also make improvements to the program to better serve veterans, victims of domestic violence, formerly homeless students, Native American communities, and rural Americans.
Last Congress, the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act had 207 bipartisan cosponsors in the House of Representatives and 43 in the Senate, nearly a majority of each chamber.
A summary of the legislation can be found here. The text of the legislation can be found here.