March 8, 2017

Senators Cantwell and Hatch Reintroduce Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2017 (S. 548) , a comprehensive bill to expand and strengthen the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit). The ACTION Campaign, which Enterprise co-leads along with the National Council of State Housing Agencies, recently submitted a letter to Congress signed by more than 2,000 businesses and organizations in strong support of this legislation.

In addition to Sens. Cantwell and Hatch, there are 11 other original co-sponsors: Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), as well as Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Dean Heller (R-Nev), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). The legislation is very similar to the comprehensive version of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (S. 3237), introduced by Sens. Cantwell and Hatch in 2016, with minor modifications

The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act would increase Housing Credit authority by 50 percent, taking a meaningful step towards addressing our nation’s vast and growing affordable housing needs. Sen. Cantwell  released a new report on the nationwide shortage of affordable housing, fueled by an increase of nine million renters since 2005, a 13 percent decrease in the number of available affordable units and stagnant wages. In her report, the Senator cites research on projected renter burdens by Enterprise and the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, and a health and housing study by Enterprise and the Center for Outcomes Research and Education. “The affordable housing crisis is exploding all across the country. We are facing pressures from all sides: demand for rental housing has increased by 21 percent, but we are building units at the lowest rate since the 1970s,” Sen. Cantwell said in a statement. “If we do not act to increase the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit – our best way to build new affordable homes – by 2025 over 15 million Americans could be spending half their income on rent. This is unacceptable.”

The Bipartisan Policy Center also recently reaffirmed its endorsement of a 50 percent expansion of the Housing Credit, calling it “the nation’s most successful rental production program, with a 30-year track record.”

The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act would also strengthen the Housing Credit by providing states with additional flexibility, making the financing of affordable housing more predictable and streamlined, facilitating Housing Credit development in challenging markets like rural and Native American communities, increasing the Housing Credit’s ability to serve extremely low-income tenants, and supporting the preservation of existing affordable housing. The legislation also contains important provisions that would support development of rental homes using the Housing Credit coupled with multifamily Housing Bonds, which currently provide critical financing to roughly 40 percent of Housing Credit apartments.

For more information, see the:

Visit the ACTION Campaign website for advocacy tools and more information about the Cantwell-Hatch effort to expand and strengthen the Housing Credit.

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