To Create More Affordable Homes in WA, Congress Should Expand the Housing Credit

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Rachael Myers, Executive Director

On November 2, House Republicans released their tax plan, known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The good news is, the bill preserves the Low Income Housing Tax Credit. The bad news is that it eliminates private activity bonds, putting at risk 2,088 affordable homes planned in Washington over the next two years.

Congress should expand and improve the Housing Credit. Every year, this credit finances the creation or preservation of almost 100,000 affordable homes across the country. And in the 30 years since the program started, it’s created nearly three million homes.

In Washington, the Housing Credit has created more than 78,000 affordable homes. Most developers using these tax credits are nonprofits, whose missions are to serve people living on low-incomes, or who are homeless, and other vulnerable members of our communities. In the more competitive part of the program, which offers deeper subsidies, nearly all developers are nonprofits. And our state’s rules prioritize targeting just over one-third of the funding to specific vulnerable populations, like seniors and people experiencing homelessness.

There are three bills in Congress that will improve the program, championed by several of Washington’s congressional members. The Senate bill, S. 548, is sponsored by Senator Maria Cantwell, and Senator Patty Murray joined as a co-sponsor last May. A bill In the House, H.R. 1661, has four Washington co-sponsors with bipartisan support: Representatives Dave Riechert, Pramila Jayapal, Suzan DelBene, and Derek Kilmer.

Both bills improve the program by creating incentives to serve homeless and extremely low-income families, encouraging the creation of homes in Native American communities, allowing for more mixed income development, and making the program more effective in rural communities. Senator Cantwell’s bill also expands the Housing Credit by 50%. Both bills have strong bi-partisan support.

Last week, Congresswoman Suzan DelBene and co-sponsors Pramila Jayapal and Adam Smith, announced the Access to Affordable Housing Act, which expands to Housing Credit by 50%.

The Housing Credit is key to ending homelessness in Washington, and it’s critical we get these bills passed.

Here’s how you can help:

Contact your members of Congress and tell them that increasing access to affordable homes and ending homelessness is a priority in your community and you’re counting on them to help expand and improve the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program and reject the elimination of the private activity bonds in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Thank Senator Cantwell for her strong leadership on S. 548. Thanks Senator Murray for co-sponsoring the bill and for her longstanding leadership to protect services for people with low-incomes. If your Representative is a co-sponsor for H.R. 1661 or the Access to Affordable Housing Act, thank them. If not, ask them to sign on.

In your message, it’s helpful to tell them a little bit about why this is important to you. If you or someone close to you has experienced homelessness or housing instability, or if you work with people who are struggling to afford a home, sharing your personal story can make your message stand out.

Find out who represents you in Congress at this link

 

Senator Cantwell photo by Natalie Behring/The Columbian

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