As many American families struggle to find a safe, affordable place to call home and homelessness across the nation continues to rise, U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) introduced bipartisan legislation to help build nearly two 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.
This bill comes at a time when our 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.
Since its creation, the Housing Credit has built or restored more than 3.5 million affordable housing units, nearly 90 percent of all federally funded affordable housing during that time. Roughly eight million American households have benefitted from the credit, and the economic activity that it generated has supported 5.5 million jobs and spurred more than $617 billion in wages.
“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 Senator Young.
“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 Senator 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.”
In Indiana, the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act would provide an additional 44,500 housing units, leading to an estimated 67,500 more jobs and generating over $7 billion in wages.
In addition to Senators Young and Cantwell, Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) led the Senate version of the bill.
“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 Senator 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.”
“As more people choose to call Tennessee home, one of the main issues I hear about is the lack of affordable housing,” said Senator Blackburn. “By modernizing the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, we can leverage our resources to increase access to affordable housing and ensure that housing supply grows to meet demand. This will not only strengthen communities in rural areas, but it will help spur economic and workforce development across the Volunteer State.”
U.S. Representatives Darin LaHood (R-IL-16) and Suzan DelBene (D-WA-01) introduced a companion version of this bill in U.S. House of Representatives.
“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 Representative 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 Representative 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.”
More specifically, the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act would:
- Increase the number of credits available to states by 50 percent for the next two years and make the temporary 12.5 percent increase secured in 2018 permanent—which has already helped build more than 59,000 additional affordable housing units nationwide.
- 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.
- Improve the Housing Credit program to better serve veterans, victims of domestic violence, formerly homeless students, Native American communities, and rural Americans.
In addition to Representatives LaHood and DelBene, Representatives Brad Wenstrup (R-OH-02), Don Beyer (D-VA-08), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-19), and Claudia Tenney (R-NY-24) led the House version of the bill.
The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2021 had 43 bipartisan cosponsors in the Senate and 207 bipartisan cosponsors in the House of Representatives, including the late Jackie Walorski.
A summary of the legislation can be found here. The text of the legislation can be found here.