July ACTION Update: Monthly Call Rescheduled for July 12, AHCIA Advocacy Tips & Related Legislation

ACTION Campaign Monthly Call Rescheduled for Friday, July 12

We will be holding the ACTION Campaign’s monthly call on Friday, July 12 at 2 pm EST. ACTION’s monthly calls are typically held on the first Friday of the month; however, July’s call has been rescheduled to Friday, July 12 due to the July 4 holiday.

Call-in Information:

  • Phone number: 866-469-3239

  • Access Code: 625 036 783 #

Time to Take Action and Garner Bipartisan Support for AHCIA!

On June 4, the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (AHCIA) was reintroduced in both the Senate (S.1703) and the House (H.R.3077). The reintroduction of this bipartisan, consensus bill follows months of work from the Congressional offices leading on the bill, the ACTION Campaign, and other national and state partners. ACTION applauds the bill’s Congressional champions for their leadership and support of the Housing Credit, and we thank our national coalition of partners for their passionate and nimble advocacy!

We especially thank our Senate leads, Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Todd Young (R-IN), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and our House leads, Representatives Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Kenny Marchant (R-TX), Don Beyer (D-VA), and Jackie Walorski (R-IN).

Since its introduction, ACTION has already been busy meeting with Congressional offices and drumming up new and renewed bipartisan support for both the Senate and House bills. The House bill (H.R.3077) has already collected a total of 38 co-sponsors. The Senate bill is generating a bipartisan list of co-sponsors which will be publicly filed in the near future.

Please join us in thanking our Congressional champions! If one of your elected officials has already co-sponsored the AHCIA, please take a moment to thank them for their support by email or phone. ACTION has provided sample thank you text for Senate and House co-sponsors, available in our advocacy toolkit.

Now is the time for ACTION’s powerful and extensive network to take action and garner as much bipartisan support for the AHCIA as we can. More than 2,200 national, state, and local organizations signed on to ACTION’s letter urging Congress to advance the AHCIA. On the July 12 ACTION call, we will discuss tips and strategies for advocating for the AHCIA, but here are some starter suggestions:

  • Review the key provisions of the bill. ACTION will be producing and sharing advocacy resources to explain the many provisions in the AHCIA (stay tuned for video clips!), but to start, advocates can read a one-page summary, review a new resource highlighting the enhancements to the latest version of the AHCIA, or look up a brief explainer for a specific provision in our detailed bill summary.

  • Prepare to share your local perspective on why we need to build and preserve more affordable housing. The bill may be technical, but your advocacy message does not have to be! It is powerful for Members of Congress to hear from her/his constituents about the affordable housing needs at home. Share your perspective on why we need to build and preserve more affordable housing, how the need for affordable housing is impacting your community, and why this is a top issue for constituents at home. If you can, it’s also extremely helpful to share updates and/or pictures of recent Housing Credit properties and describe that development’s benefits to showcase how the Housing Credit is our most successful tool for financing affordable housing developments.

  • Schedule district office meetings with your elected officials or reach out to us if you’re planning a trip to DC. Congress is on recess this week—the week of July 1—and will be again in August. Reach out to your Members’ district offices and invite them to tour a site or request a meeting while they are at home. Or if you’re planning a trip to DC, you can reach out to us for help scheduling and preparing for meetings on the Hill (email sbrundage@enterprisecommunity.org).

  • Utilize ACTION resources for your advocacy. ACTION has produced numerous resources for advocates to prepare and share when meeting with Members of Congress. We recommend bringing along copies of the following resources to leave behind:

Always check back to www.rentalhousingaction.org/advocacytoolkit to download and print the latest version of these resources. For more advocacy tips and to hear the latest from DC, be sure to tune into ACTION’s monthly call on July 12! For any questions about finding or using ACTION resources, please email kdalessandro@enterprisecommunity.org.

Other Related Legislation

Qualified contract stand-alone bill, The Save Affordable Housing Act, introduced. On June 25, legislators introduced a bipartisan bill, The Save Affordable Housing Act of 2019, that would amend the qualified contract provision in Section 42 of the Internal Revenue Code. The Save Affordable Housing Act of 2019 was introduced with bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House. The Senate bill (S.1956) was introduced by Senators Ron Wyden (D-WA) and Todd Young (R-IN), with Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) as original co-sponsors, and the House bill (H.R.3479) was introduced by Representative Joe Neguse (D-CO-02), Don Beyer (D-VA-08), and Jackie Walorski (R-IN-02).

The Save Affordable Housing Act of 2019 would:

  • Repeal the qualified contract option in Section 42 for future developments (after December 31, 2018), thus eliminating the qualified contract provision being used as an opt-out for properties awarded credits or bonds beginning in 2019; and

  • Correct the statutory price for purchase of existing properties so that it is based on the fair market value of the property as affordable housing.

The Save Affordable Housing Act of 2019 aims to ensure that both current and future affordable housing properties financed by the Housing Credit fulfill the program’s 30-year affordability commitment.

LIHTC-DR boost for California advances in recent tax extenders package. On June 18, the House Ways and Means Committee marked-up and passed four bills, including H.R. 3301, The Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2019. Introduced by Representative Mike Thompson (D-CA-05), this bill includes a temporary increase in Housing Credit authority for 2017 and 2018 disaster areas in California. This bill was advanced by Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) as part of a tax credits package and was approved out of Committee.  

New ACTION Fact Sheets Show the Housing Bond’s Impact and Estimated Benefits from a Minimum 4 Percent Housing Credit Rate

The ACTION Campaign (ACTION) is pleased to release new fact sheets that demonstrate the impact of Housing Bonds and the 4 percent Housing Credit, as well as the projected additional affordable homes from establishing a minimum 4 percent Housing Credit rate at the national scale and for the top 12 states that would benefit.

Housing Bonds, together with the 4 percent Housing Credit, are one of the primary tools for preserving our nation’s existing affordable housing stock. Housing Bonds have been used with the Housing Credit to finance 1.1 million affordable homes nationwide. The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (S. 1703 and H.R. 3077) would establish a minimum 4 percent Housing Credit rate, which would result in an estimated 66,000 additional affordable homes over the next ten years.

About Housing Bonds and the 4% Housing Credit

Multifamily Housing Bonds (Housing Bonds) are a type of tax-exempt private activity bond used by state and local housing finance agencies—often in conjunction with the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit)—to acquire, construct, and rehabilitate affordable multifamily housing for low-income renters.

Housing Bonds provide financing to roughly half of all developments financed each year with the Housing Credit, our nation’s primary tool for building and preserving affordable housing. There are two components of the Housing Credit program – the “9 percent Housing Credit” and the “4 percent Housing Credit.” The 4 percent Housing Credit can only be accessed when Housing Bonds are used to finance at least half of a development’s cost. While Housing Bonds and the 4 percent Housing Credit can be used for either new construction or rehabilitation, they are commonly used for rehabilitation because it is often more cost effective to preserve existing affordable housing with this tool.

New ACTION Fact Sheets on Housing Bonds and the 4% Housing Credit

ACTION’s new National Fact Sheet on Housing Bonds and the 4 percent Housing Credit shows that 1.1 million affordable homes nationwide have been financed using a combination of Housing Bonds and the Housing Credit, serving an estimated 2.6 million low-income households. These Housing Bond-financed affordable homes have also supported an estimated 1.2 million jobs and generated approximately $46.6 billion in tax revenue and $118 billion in wages and business income.

Without Housing Bonds, the 4 percent Housing Credit would not finance tens of thousands of affordable rental homes each year. However, setting a minimum 4 percent Housing Credit rate would allow even more affordable rental housing to be built. Currently, the 4 percent Housing Credit rate is much lower than Congress originally intended because it fluctuates monthly based on a formula tied to federal borrowing rates. The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (S. 1703 and H.R. 3077) would establish a minimum 4 percent Housing Credit rate, which would result in an estimated 66,000 additional affordable homes nationwide over the next ten years.

Click here to view ACTION’s National Fact Sheet on Housing Bonds

Top 12 States that would benefit from a Minimum 4 percent Housing Credit rate:

1.      California Housing Bond Fact Sheet

2.      New York Housing Bond Fact Sheet

3.      Texas Housing Bond Fact Sheet

4.      Washington Housing Bond Fact Sheet

5.      Florida Housing Bond Fact Sheet

6.      Massachusetts Housing Bond Fact Sheet

7.      Illinois Housing Bond Fact Sheet

8.      Georgia Housing Bond Fact Sheet

9.      Ohio Housing Bond Fact Sheet

10.  Minnesota Housing Bond Fact Sheet

11.  Colorado Housing Bond Fact Sheet

12.  Missouri Housing Bond Fact Sheet

For more information on these projections, please see Novogradac’s blog post.

JOIN THE ACTION SIGN-ON LETTER!

On June 4, the bipartisan Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (S. 1703 and H.R. 3077) was reintroduced in both the Senate and the House! The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (AHCIA) would establish a minimum 4 percent Housing Credit rate. The AHCIA would also increase the Housing Credit allocation authority by 50 percent, resulting in an estimated 384,500 additional affordable homes. Those two provisions alone – both included in the Senate and House versions of the AHCIA – would result in approximately 450,500 additional affordable homes over the next ten years.

The ACTION Campaign will be submitting a letter to Congress demonstrating our strong support for the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act. Read the letter and sign on to support the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2019. The deadline for signing on to the letter is Tuesday, June 11.

All existing ACTION Campaign members will be included in the letter, so if you are already an ACTION Campaign member you do NOT need to sign on. However, we encourage you to share the letter with your networks to help us show broad support for the Housing Credit.

If you have any questions or wish to remove your organization from the letter, contact Sarah Brundage at sbrundage@enterprisecommunity.org by the June 11 deadline.

 

Senators and Representatives Reintroduce the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act; Join ACTION Sign-On Letter in Support of Both Bipartisan Bills!

Today Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Todd Young (R-IN), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and Representatives Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Kenny Marchant (R-TX), Don Beyer (D-VA), and Jackie Walorski (R-IN), introduced the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (AHCIA) of 2019 (S. 1703 and H.R. 3077), bipartisan legislation to strengthen the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit). The ACTION Campaign applauds these affordable housing Congressional champions for their leadership and support of the Housing Credit!

Both S. 1703 and H.R. 3077 include a 50 percent increase in Housing Credit authority, from which the ACTION Campaign estimates 384,500 additional affordable homes could be built over the next ten years. Both bills would also establish a minimum 4 percent Housing Credit rate, which would allow for an estimated 66,000 additional affordable homes to be built over the next ten years. In total, those two provisions alone in the AHCIA would provide for approximately 450,500 additional affordable homes over the next ten years.

The AHCIA also includes more than two dozen other provisions that would help preserve existing affordable housing, facilitate Housing Credit development for extremely low-income households and in hard-to-serve communities, provide state Housing Credit allocating agencies new tools to strengthen program oversight, and streamline rules to create efficiencies in program administration. New provisions in the AHCIA this Congress would help the Housing Credit better serve rural areas, encourage cost reasonableness, and maximize Private Activity Bond affordable housing resources, among other changes.

For more information on the bill, you can find the following resources at www.rentalhousingaction.org/advocacytoolkit:

  • AHCIA one-page summary

  • AHCIA detailed bill summary

  • AHCIA differences between 116th and 115th Congress

JOIN THE ACTION SIGN-ON LETTER!

The ACTION Campaign will be submitting a letter to Congress demonstrating our strong support for the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act.  Read the letter and sign on to support the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2019. The deadline for signing on to the letter is Tuesday, June 11.

All existing ACTION Campaign members will be included in the letter, so if you are already an ACTION Campaign member you do NOT need to sign on. However, we encourage you to share the letter with your networks to help us show broad support for the Housing Credit.

If you have any questions or wish to remove your organization from the letter, contact Sarah Brundage at sbrundage@enterprisecommunity.org by the June 11 deadline.

June ACTION Update: AHCIA Reintroduction Expected Soon!

AHCIA Reintroduction Expected Soon

The ACTION Campaign and our Congressional partners have been hard at work to finalize both the Senate and House versions of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (AHCIA). We are expecting the reintroduction of the bipartisan bill at the start of the June working session. As soon as the AHCIA is reintroduced, ACTION will share an update, including a summary of the bill, and we will call on our partners to sign on to a letter urging Members of Congress to support the advancement of this critical legislation. Stay tuned!

Senate Finance Committee Forming Bipartisan Taskforces to Examine Certain Expiring/Expired Tax Provisions

On May 16, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) announced that the Senate Finance Committee is forming six bipartisan taskforces to examine a total of 42 temporary tax provisions that expired, or will expire, between December 31, 2017 and December 31, 2019. In his remarks on the Senate floor, Chairman Grassley noted that the taskforces will be charged to examine the temporary tax policies and to work with stakeholders, other Senate offices, and interested parties “to consider the original purpose of the policy and whether the need for the provision continues today.” The taskforces will be asked “to identify possible solutions that would provide long-term certainty” for each of the 42 expired or expiring tax provisions, which may mean: elimination; a phase-out; a scale-back in exchange for long-term extension or permanency; a short-term extension as is; a long-term extension as is; or permanency. Senator Grassley also noted that the taskforces will complete their efforts by the end of June.

Of the six bipartisan taskforces, the Employment & Community Development Taskforce is expected to consider the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) and would also be the taskforce interested in other community development tax provisions such as those related to the Housing Credit. The Employment & Community Development Taskforce will be co-led by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and also includes Senators Tim Scott (R-SC), James Lankford (R-OK), Todd Young (R-IN), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV).

Public comments can be submitted to the Employment & Community Development Taskforce at Employment&Development_Taskforce@finance.senate.gov

To view Chairman Grassley’s press release, click here.
To view Chairman Grassley’s remarks, click here.  

ACTION Submits Letter to House Financial Services in Response to Housing Infrastructure Hearing

On April 30, the House Financial Services held a hearing, Housing in America: Assessing the Infrastructure Needs of America’s Housing Stock. The ACTION Campaign submitted a letter for the record, thanking Chairwoman Waters for her dedication to affordable housing and encouraging the Committee to support the inclusion of provisions of the AHCIA bill in any infrastructure package, given the Housing Credit’s key role in financing affordable housing. Click here to view ACTION’s letter.

Updated Fact Sheets Show the Housing Credit’s Impact Nationwide and in Every State

Nationwide, the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) has financed nearly 3.2 million rental units, providing approximately 7.4 million low-income households with homes they can afford. These national figures reflect the most recently available data, and are provided on the ACTION Campaign’s newly updated National Fact Sheet.

In addition, the National Fact Sheet highlights that the Housing Credit has supported approximately 3.6 million jobs and generated approximately $135 billion in tax revenue and $344 billion in wages and business income.

However, while the Housing Credit has provided immense benefits for low-income households and the economy, much more affordable housing is still needed nationwide. Nearly 10.8 million renter households pay more than half of their monthly income on rent alone, leaving too little for other expenses like health care, transportation, and nutritious food. A minimum wage worker has to work 99 hours per week in order to afford a one-bedroom apartment at the national average fair market rent.

The ACTION Campaign advocates for the expansion of the Housing Credit so that it can further address our nation’s severe shortage of affordable housing. The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act would provide a 50 percent increase in Housing Credit allocation authority, which would result in an estimated 384,455 additional affordable homes across U.S. states and territories over the next ten years.

Click here to view the ACTION Campaign’s updated National Fact Sheet

The ACTION Campaign has also updated these figures at the state-level, including the estimated additional affordable homes that could be built through a 50 percent increase in Housing Credit allocation. These advocacy tools demonstrate the Housing Credit’s impact in each state and can be used to call for the expansion and strengthening of the Housing Credit.

Click here to view the ACTION Campaign’s updated State Fact Sheets

The National and State Fact Sheets have been updated with data from the 2017 National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) State HFA Factbook, 2017 American Community Survey, the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s 2018 Out of Reach report, new calculations by Novogradac, and estimates using multipliers from the National Association of Home Builders. Click here for more detailed information on the data sources and methodology.

The ACTION Campaign’s District Fact Sheets will be updated with new data this summer.

For questions about these and other ACTION resources, please contact Sarah Brundage at sbrundage@enterprisecommunity.org.

May ACTION Update: Congress Returns from Recess, House Financial Services Hearing on Infrastructure

Congress Returns from Recess, AHCIA Continues to Progress Toward Reintroduction

This week, Congress returns from recess and will resume efforts to advance future bipartisan packages and legislation, including the expected Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (AHCIA). It is expected for Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Representative Suzan DelBene (D-WA) to respectively introduce the Senate and House bills with bipartisan original co-sponsors in the month of May. The AHCIA will, once again, include numerous important provisions that will help strengthen the Housing Credit. We expect the centerpiece provisions of the AHCIA to be a cap increase and a minimum 4% Credit Rate for bond-financed properties.

 As soon as the AHCIA is reintroduced, ACTION will share an update, including a summary of the bill, and we will call on our partners to sign on to a letter urging Members of Congress to support the advancement of this critical legislation. With the 2020 election likely to draw a lot of focus next year, the 116th Congress is a critical period to secure the much-needed investments in affordable housing that the AHCIA would provide.

House Financial Services Holds Housing Infrastructure Hearing; Chairwoman Waters Introduces Housing Infrastructure Legislation

On Tuesday, April 30, the House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing, Housing in America: Assessing the Infrastructure Needs of America’s Housing Stock. The ACTION Campaign will be submitting a letter for the record, thanking Chairwoman Waters for her dedication to affordable housing and encouraging the Committee to support the inclusion of provisions of the AHCIA bill in any infrastructure package, given the Housing Credit’s key role in financing affordable housing. The Hearing will focus in large part on House Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters’s (D-CA) recently released draft legislation, titled the Housing Is Infrastructure Act of 2019, which would authorize $92 billion for HUD affordable housing and related programs, including the Public Housing Capital Fund, the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, and the Housing Trust Fund.

April ACTION Update: House Committee Members Share Support for Housing as Infrastructure

Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act Update

ACTION is continuing to work closely with congressional champions in the House and the Senate to finalize the bill text, secure Republican lead sponsors, and reintroduce the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act to strengthen and expand the Housing Credit. ACTION will send out a notice as soon as the bill is re-introduced. We will also circulate an organizational sign-on letter so that we can once again demonstrate broad support for the legislation. Ensuring strong bipartisan support of this legislation is critical as Congress considers potential legislative packages that may serve as a vehicle to advance Housing Credit provisions. Stay tuned to our blog for updates on the Housing Credit and opportunities to strengthen and expand the program.

House Committee Members Highlight Why Affordable Housing Should be Included in an Infrastructure Package

On March 6 the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing entitled “Our Nation’s Crumbling Infrastructure and the Need for Immediate Action.” Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA), long-time affordable housing and community development champion, stated in his opening remarks that “we must reinvest in our urban and rural communities through successful programs like the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and New Markets Tax Credit.” Representative Don Beyer (D-VA) also emphasized the importance of affordable housing, stating that the working men and women of America “not only have to get to work but also have stable and reliable homes that are a reasonable distance from work.” The ACTION Campaign submitted a statement for the record in response to the hearing thanking the Chairman and other Committee members for support of the Housing Credit and the multifamily Housing Bond program, and to express upon the Committee that affordable housing is a critical part of a country’s infrastructure, as much as roads and public utilities. The ACTION letter urged the Committee to ensure that any infrastructure bill includes a housing title that makes central the proposals likely to be included in the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act upon its reintroduction.

March ACTION Update: Lawmakers Turn Attention to FY 2020 Appropriations and Other Legislative Priorities

Lawmakers Divert Second Government Shutdown, Turn Attention to FY 2020 Appropriations and Other Legislative Priorities

Earlier this month Congress passed and the president signed full-year spending bills to fund the agencies that had been operating under a Continuing Resolution (CR) for fiscal year (FY) 2019. The bill provides enough money to fully fund renewals for tenant-based and project-based vouchers, and sets aside $25 million for a family mobility demonstration program that aims to help families move to and remain in lower-poverty neighborhoods. It also provides $1.25 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, a HUD block grant program that is often used as a gap filler in Housing Credit developments. This represents an 8 percent reduction in HOME since FY 2018, but is still HOME’s second highest allocation since FY 2011. 

Appropriators will now turn their attention to the FY 2020 appropriations process, which will require lawmakers to agree to raise the spending caps enacted in the Budget Control Act of 2011 in order to avoid dramatic cuts across federal programs in FY 2020.

While there was talk of attaching a tax extenders package to the FY 2019 appropriations bill, it ultimately advanced without any tax provisions. There may be another effort to extend expired tax provisions later this year, which could offer an opportunity to advance other tax priorities, including the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit).

Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act Update

The government shutdown delayed congressional action on many legislative priorities, but offices are picking up the pace on finalizing legislation now that FY 2019 funding negotiations have ended. ACTION is working closely with congressional champions in the House and Senate to finalize bill text, secure Republican lead sponsors, and reintroduce the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act to strengthen and expand the Housing Credit. Stay tuned to our blog for updates on the Housing Credit and opportunities to advocate in support of the program.

Congressional Hearings Highlight Importance of Affordable Housing

On February 13 the House Financial Services Committee convened a hearing entitled “Homelessness in America: Examining the Crisis and Solutions to End Homelessness.” The full committee hearing focused on both the causes of and solutions to homelessness, and many panel members testified on the importance of addressing housing affordability issues as a critical homelessness-prevention tool. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) stated during the hearing that the Housing Credit, which enjoys bipartisan support, is the primary tool for promoting affordable housing. The House Ways and Means Committee also held a hearing on February 13 – “How Middle Class Families are Faring in Today’s Economy” – in which Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA), a strong supporter of the Housing Credit, spoke about the importance of affordable rental housing.

Senate Banking Committee to Vote on Mark Calabria as FHFA Director

The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs will vote on the nomination of Mark Calabria to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) this Thursday, February 28. Earlier this month Dr. Calabria testified before the Senate Banking Committee on his nomination to lead FHFA, where he faced questions regarding previous statements supporting the elimination of affordable housing goals for the GSEs, as well as his intentions regarding the future of the Capital Magnet and Housing Trust Funds. Regarding his authority to suspend payments to these programs, Calabria stated that the standard to suspend payments was “mechanical,” rather than discretionary, and added that under the current economic conditions the payments were not at risk of being suspended. When asked whether he would commit to preserving strong affordable housing goals, he stated that he would, “within the confines of the statute.”

FHA to Expand Pilot Program Focused on Accelerating Financing of Housing Credit Projects

HUD has announced the expansion of a pilot program that streamlines Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage insurance applications for affordable housing developments that have equity from Housing Credits. FHA is expanding this pilot to include new construction and substantial rehabilitation under its Section 221(d)(4) and Section 220 Programs. The program is intended to ensure faster and more efficient processing for low-risk, Housing Credit transactions by eliminating redundant reviews.

February ACTION Update: Congressional Champions Preparing to Reintroduce Housing Credit Legislation

Government Shutdown Ends with Temporary Funding Agreement

The partial government shutdown ended over the weekend when Congress and the White House agreed to fund the government through February 15 and provide lawmakers additional time to negotiate a larger immigration and border security agreement. Congress’s immediate focus will be reaching a full-year funding agreement to avoid lapsing into another shutdown on the 15th. Congressional activity related to other policy areas, including potential tax extenders legislation, has been effectively on hold since the shutdown standoff began but the government reopening may present an opening for negotiations to begin again. As always, ACTION is seeking any opportunity to advance provisions to strengthen and expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) and we encourage stakeholders to stay tuned for advocacy updates.

Congressional Champions Preparing to Reintroduce Housing Credit Legislation

ACTION has been working closely with Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) on the reintroduction of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act in both chambers, including legislative tweaks and identifying new lead Republican sponsors to take the place of former Chairman Orrin Hatch and former Congressman Carlos Curbelo. Before a bill is re-introduced it is important to begin building support among new members of Congress and encourage previous supporters to sign on as original co-sponsors. If you are meeting with your members of Congress in the coming weeks we encourage you to:

We will be updating the Advocacy Toolkit with new materials for the 116th Congress when a bill is introduced. In the meantime, the ACTION State and District Fact Sheets, ACTION Campaign Members by state, and the 4 Percent Credit Rate Fact Sheet are valuable resources to share with Members of Congress and their staff.

Administration Signals Plan to End Government Control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

The White House is expected to announce a plan by next month to end government control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the government sponsored enterprises, or GSEs), which have been under the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) conservatorship since September 2008. Joseph Otting, the agency’s acting director, told FHFA employees that the Administration would not wait on Congress, where efforts to overhaul the housing finance system have failed over the past decade. FHFA announced in November 2017 that the GSEs would be allowed to re-enter the Housing Credit market on a limited basis ($500 million in annual investments for each GSE) with the goal of preserving affordable housing, supporting mixed-income housing, providing supportive housing, and meeting other affordable housing objectives. It is unclear how the White House’s plan will impact the GSEs involvement in the Housing Credit market.

January ACTION Update: ACTION Remains Committed to Strengthening and Expanding the Housing Credit in the 116th Congress

Government Shutdown Continues Without Clear Resolution

Congress and the White House were unable to reach an agreement on fiscal year (FY) 2019 appropriations before funding expired on December 21, resulting in a partial government shutdown affecting eight Departments, including HUD and the Treasury Department. Democrats are expected to pass a bill to reopen the government when they take control of the House on January 3, including full FY 2019 funding for eight unfunded Departments. House Democrats also plan to pass a continuing resolution (CR) for the Department of Homeland Security until February 8 to provide additional time for border security negotiations. The Senate is unlikely to pass these bills since they are not expected to include the President's requested funding for a border wall. Top congressional lawmakers are scheduled to meet with the President this afternoon to discuss border security, but the path forward for funding negotiations remains unclear. Further, Congress did not pass a tax package at the end of last year and it remains to be seen at what point a tax package may enter the discussion in the new Congress.

ACTION Remains Committed to Strengthening and Expanding the Housing Credit

Despite an unclear legislative outlook in early 2019, we will now hit the ground running to build on the strong momentum we generated for the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act in the last Congress. ACTION will be working closely with Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and incoming House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) to identify new lead Republican sponsors in both the House and Senate, and reintroduce the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act. Advocacy in support of the Housing Credit in the coming weeks will be important to sustain strong bipartisan support for the Credit, as well as educate new members of Congress about the Housing Credit in advance of the bill's introduction. It is also critical that all Housing Credit stakeholders thank your members of Congress who previously co-sponsored the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act and ask for their continued support this year.

December ACTION Update: Year-End Tax Package Uncertain as Government Shutdown Looms

Year-End Tax Package Uncertain as Government Shutdown Looms

Last week House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) introduced tax legislation that would renew expired tax provisions, make technical fixes to last year's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, provide incentives for retirement savings, and offer tax relief for natural disaster victims. The tax package also includes a technical correction that would modify the general public use rule for multifamily Housing Bonds to clarify that there is an exemption for properties serving veterans. It is unclear whether lawmakers will move forward with negotiations on this package in the lame duck or wait until the next Congress to consider tax legislation. House Republican leadership intended to vote on the proposal last week, but it was ultimately postponed because a large number of representatives were absent and thus the package lacked the votes to advance.

Complicating matters is the fact that there is limited legislative time remaining this year and lawmakers’ top priority is finalizing fiscal year (FY) 2019 appropriations before the current continuing resolution (CR) funding many government functions expires on December 7. The President has said he will veto any spending package that does not include his requested funding for border security, which would result in a partial government shutdown. However, given former President George H. W. Bush’s passing over the weekend, lawmakers and White House officials are considering a potential one- or two-week CR during the week of national mourning. Despite an unclear path forward, our champions in Congress are looking for any opportunity to advance the minimum 4 percent Housing Credit rate and other provisions from the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act.

Opportunities and Challenges for Affordable Housing in the Next Congress

With Democrats taking control of the House and Republicans strengthening their hold in the Senate, the 116th Congress will present both opportunities and challenges for affordable housing priorities. ACTION members in D.C. have been working closely with our congressional champions to prepare for reintroducing the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act next year. With Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) retiring and Representative Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) losing his bid for reelection, we will be seeking new Republican sponsors in both the House and Senate. And with more than 80 members of Congress not returning to Washington next year, including more than 40 co-sponsors of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, we will be working hard to educate new members and their staff about the Housing Credit.

In addition to new lead sponsors and a divided government next year, there will also be important changes on the committees that oversee tax legislation, including the Housing Credit. Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) will become Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Sen. Ron Wyden (R-OR) – a strong supporter of the Housing Credit – will remain Ranking Member. Sen. Grassley is expected to focus on oversight of tax expenditures during his Chairmanship. In the House, long-time Housing Credit supporter and current lead sponsor Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) will become Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, with former Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) becoming Ranking Member. A top priority for Democrats in the next Congress will be passage of a large infrastructure package, which presents an opportunity to advance affordable housing priorities.

Advocacy in support of the Housing Credit next year will be important to ensure continued momentum. With the recent additions of Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Doug Jones (D-AL), the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (S. 548) has 45 co-sponsors – 11 Republicans, 32 Democrats and 2 Independents. The House version of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (H.R. 1661) has a total of 181 co-sponsors – 82 Republicans and 99 Democrats. We will hit the ground running next year to rebuild strong support for the Housing Credit.

Updated Fact Sheets Show the Housing Credit’s Impact in Every Congressional District

To support upcoming advocacy efforts, we have updated the ACTION Campaign’s District Fact Sheets with the most recent data to show the Housing Credit’s impact in each congressional district and the affordable housing needs that remain in every state. Last month, ACTION also updated its state fact sheets showing that the Housing Credit has financed more than 3 million apartments nationwide, providing affordable homes to 7.2 million low-income families and supporting 3.4 million jobs. New to both the state and district fact sheets this year are data demonstrating the impact that a 50 percent increase in Housing Credit resources would have in each state. We urge all affordable housing advocates to share these fact sheets with members of Congress and ask for their support of the Housing Credit.

ACTION Submits Comments on CRA Modernization

On November 19, the ACTION Campaign submitted a comment letter to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) urging the regulator to continue to support robust investment in the Housing Credit. The OCC will now review public comments responding to its advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) before releasing a proposed rule, which offers an additional opportunity for public input. Typically all three federal banking regulators – the OCC, Federal Reserve Board of Governors, and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) – work together on regulatory changes, but it is yet to be seen whether the Federal Reserve and FDIC will join the OCC in subsequent steps of the rulemaking process.

Updated Fact Sheets Show the Housing Credit's Impact in Every Congressional District

The ACTION Campaign’s district fact sheets, which show the Housing Credit’s impact in each congressional district and the affordable housing needs that still remain in every state, have been updated to reflect the most recent data available.

The data come from HUD’s LIHTC database through 2016, with economic impact multipliers from the National Association of Home Builders. The district fact sheets also include data on cost-burdened renters from the 2016 American Community Survey, and data from the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s 2016 Out of Reach report, showing how many hours a minimum wage worker in each state has to work in order to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment.

We also updated our state fact sheets last month, showing that the Housing Credit has financed more than 3 million apartments nationwide, providing affordable homes to 7.2 million low-income families and supporting 3.4 million jobs. However, 11 million households still pay more than half of their income towards rent, and the average minimum wage worker has to work 90 hours per week in order to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment, underscoring the need to expand the Housing Credit and invest in communities across the country.

New to both the state and district fact sheets this year is data demonstrating the impact that a 50 percent increase in Housing Credit allocation authority would have in each state. The Cantwell-Hatch Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (S. 548), bipartisan legislation to strengthen and expand the Housing Credit, includes a 50 percent increase in allocation authority. According to recent estimates from accounting firm Novogradac & Company, a 50 percent expansion of the Housing Credit would allow more than 264,200 additional affordable homes to be built nationally over the next ten years.

November ACTION Update: Lame Duck Legislative Agenda Hinges on Outcome of Midterm Elections

Lame Duck Legislative Agenda Hinges on Outcome of Midterm Elections

The outcome of tomorrow’s midterm elections will not only impact the policy environment in the next Congress, but also could affect legislative activity during the lame duck session when Congress returns, including opportunities to advance Housing Credit provisions from the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (S. 548/H.R. 1661). Leadership in both the House and Senate have expressed interest in advancing a tax extenders package in the lame duck session, which may include other tax provisions such as technical corrections and could present an opportunity to advance the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act. However, it remains to be seen whether the elections will impact the likelihood of Congress advancing a tax package this year. Advocacy in support of the Housing Credit will be critical after the elections to ensure that provisions from the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act rise to the top of the list in any potential tax negotiations. Stay tuned for additional updates on strategy and advocacy opportunities following the elections.

Updated Fact Sheets Show the Housing Credit’s Impact in Each State

The ACTION Campaign’s state fact sheets have been updated with the most recent data to show the Housing Credit’s impact and the affordable housing needs that remain in every state. New to the state fact sheets this year is data demonstrating the impact that a 50 percent increase in the Housing Credit, as proposed in the Cantwell-Hatch Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, would have in each state. Recent estimates from accounting firm Novogradac & Company estimate that a 50 percent expansion would support the production of more than 264,200 additional affordable homes nationally over the next ten years. ACTION urges all stakeholder to share these state fact sheets with your elected officials and ask them to support efforts to advance Housing Credit provisions in the lame duck session, including by co-sponsoring the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (S. 548/H.R. 1661). The ACTION district fact sheets will be updated in the coming weeks.

Senator Heller Introduces Seniors Affordable Housing Tax Credit Legislation

Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) introduced a new Seniors Affordable Housing Tax Credit Act (S. 3580) to incentivize owners of rental properties to rent to low-income seniors at affordable rents. The bill would create a tax credit program that allocates credit to states, with states responsible for awarding the Credits to owners and developers who rent their properties to low-income seniors. Qualified seniors would pay no more than 30 percent of their income for rent and utilities, with the rental unit’s owner receiving a federal tax credit making up the difference between the tenant’s rent payment and the rent the owner would have otherwise received. Given the limited time left in the session, we do not expect Senator Heller’s bill to advance in this Congress. Senator Heller is an original co-sponsor of both the Cantwell-Hatch Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (S. 548), and the Task Force on the Impact of the Affordable Housing Crisis Act (S. 3231), bipartisan legislation introduced in July to examine the impact that the national shortage of affordable housing has on all areas of life. ACTION thanks Senator Heller for his commitment to addressing the nation’s shortage of affordable housing. 

Comments on CRA Modernization Due November 19

The ACTION Campaign will be submitting comments responding to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s (OCC) Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) on CRA modernization urging the OCC to continue to support robust investment in the Housing Credit. We will also be circulating talking points to the entire ACTION Campaign and encourage all Housing Credit stakeholders to submit comments in support of the Housing Credit.

Updated Fact Sheets Show the Housing Credit’s Impact in Every State

The ACTION Campaign’s state fact sheets, which show the impact of the Housing Credit and the affordable housing needs that still remain in every state, have been updated with data through 2016, the latest data available.

New to the state fact sheets this year is data demonstrating the impact that a 50 percent increase in Housing Credit allocation authority would have in each state. The Cantwell-Hatch Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (S. 548), bipartisan legislation to strengthen and expand the Housing Credit, includes a 50 percent increase in allocation authority. According to recent estimates from accounting firm Novogradac & Company, a 50 percent expansion of the Housing Credit would allow more than 264,200 additional affordable homes to be built nationally over the next ten years.

The data on the state fact sheets come from the National Council of State Housing Agencies’ 2016 Factbook, with economic impact multipliers from the National Association of Home Builders and data on cost-burdened renters from the 2016 American Community Survey. The fact sheets also use data from the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s 2016 Out of Reach report, showing how many hours a minimum wage worker has to work in order to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment.

Nationwide, the Housing Credit has financed more than 3 million apartments, providing affordable homes to 7.2 million low-income families and supporting 3.5 million jobs. However, more than 11 million households still pay more than half of their income towards rent, and the average minimum wage worker has to work 90 hours per week in order to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment, further underscoring the immense need to expand the Housing Credit.

The ACTION Campaign’s district fact sheets will be updated with 2016 data in the coming weeks.

ACTION national fact sheet 2018.PNG

October ACTION Update: Congress to Consider Tax Legislation in Lame Duck Session, More than 40 Percent of the House Signs on to Strengthen the Housing Credit

Chairman Brady Signals Tax Extenders Will be Considered After Midterm Elections

Last week, the House passed a series of bills making permanent the individual and small business tax cuts enacted in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and making other changes to the tax code related to business innovation and pensions. Those bills now head to the Senate – where they are not expected to be considered, at least before the November midterm elections. There were no provisions directly related to the Housing Credit or Housing Bonds included in these bills. 

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) has signaled that House tax leaders are speaking with their Senate counterparts about legislation related to tax extenders that Congress could consider after the elections. Though Senate leadership has been signaling interest in taking up tax extenders this year, this is the first time House leadership has shown openness as well. Should tax extenders advance as part of larger tax legislation this fall, which may also include technical provisions and other tax provisions, it may present an opportunity to advance provisions from the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (S. 548/H.R. 1661).To position the Housing Credit as strongly as possible going into any potential negotiations in the lame duck session, ACTION encourages all stakeholders to continue conducting outreach to your elected officials to both urge them to sign on if they haven't already, and thank current co-sponsors for their continued support. Visit our Advocacy Toolkit for resources to reach out to your member of Congress.

More than 40 Percent of the House Signs on to Strengthen the Housing Credit

The House version of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (H.R. 1661) gained 13 additional co-sponsors last month, bringing total co-sponsorship on the bill to 175 members, including 95 Democrats and 80 Republicans. This represents more than 40 percent of the House, a strong and continuously growing display of bipartisan support for the Credit. Recent additions include Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ-8), Rep. David Loesbsack (D-IA-2), Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL-8), Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH-11), Rep. Val Butler Demings (D-FL-10), Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA-8), Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH-2), Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI-14), Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-NY-3), Rep. Robert Latta (R-OH-5), Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA-35), Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA-12), and Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ-4).

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has also co-sponsored the Senate version of the bill (S. 548), bringing total co-sponsors on S. 548 to 41 members, including 29 Democrats, 10 Republicans and two Independents. We encourage all ACTION members to thank your members of Congress who co-sponsored H.R. 1661 and S. 548.

New Reports Highlight Housing Credit Development Costs

Last month the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report examining total development costs in Housing Credit properties. The report is the last in a series of studies GAO has conducted on the Housing Credit program in recent years at the request of Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA). GAO’s report studied Housing Credit properties across 12 allocating agencies in 10 states between 2011 and 2015 and found wide variation in development costs – resulting largely from the diversity of geographies in the states surveyed. The report also details the comprehensive and consistent efforts of state agencies to ensure reasonable development costs, and makes several recommendations to IRS and Congress regarding cost certification practices, data collection, and treatment of syndication fees.

The GAO report’s findings are generally consistent with a recent independent analysis conducted by Abt Associates. Based on the Abt research and additional data from Dodge Data and Analytics, the National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) finds that Housing Credit apartments cost roughly the same to build as market rate apartments, despite the additional federal requirements that Housing Credit developments must meet. Read more about the Abt Associates report on the ACTION blog, and see NCSHA’s side-by-side chart for a full comparison between the GAO report and the Abt study.

ACTION appreciates the new research on the Housing Credit and will continue to work with Congress and the IRS to strengthen and improve the program.

Senator Warren Introduces Legislation to Address Housing Affordability

Last week Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced a bill that aims to address housing affordability and would support the development of up to 3.2 million new residential units. This legislation would invest: $445 billion in the national Housing Trust Fund (NHT); $25 billion in the Capital Magnet Fund; $2 billion in the Indian Housing Block Grant; $523 million in rural housing programs; and $4 billion in a new "Middle-Class Housing Emergency Fund.” It would also provide down-payment grants to first-time homebuyers living in formerly redlined areas, facilitate the use of federal housing vouchers in high-opportunity neighborhoods and expand the scope of financial institutions covered under the Community Reinvestment Act. There are no provisions related to the Housing Credit or Housing Bonds included in the package. The bill would be funded by returning the estate tax to its 2009 level, which Moody’s Analytics found would make the legislation revenue neutral. While the package is unlikely to advance in this Congress, ACTION thanks Senator Warren for her commitment to addressing affordable housing challenges, including her recent co-sponsorship of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (S. 548).

New Research Analyzes Total Development Costs in Housing Credit Units Nationwide

Today the National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) published a new report, Variation in Development Costs for LIHTC Projects, which analyzes total development costs in Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) developments nationwide. The report finds that Housing Credit developments costs, on average, are roughly the same as development costs for all multifamily apartments.

The report, which NCSHA commissioned Abt Associates to complete, studied 2,500 Housing Credit properties containing more than 160,000 units over a multi-year period. Key findings include:

  • Housing Credit-financed apartments on average cost roughly the same to develop as the typical apartment, even as Housing Credit properties must by law meet many requirements that typical apartment buildings do not.
  • Housing Credit development costs have grown no faster than, and likely more slowly than, development costs for apartments overall over the last several years. 
  • The median total development costs per unit between 2011 and 2016, including soft costs – such as fees for contractors, architects, and other professionals – and land costs, was $164,757, adjusted for construction cost inflation. The mean was $182,498.
  • The primary factors that drive the development costs of all apartment projects, including Housing Credit properties – costs of land, labor, and materials – are driven by market forces, not state agency administration.

See NCSHA’s summary of the report for more information.

The Housing Credit is our nation’s most successful tool for building and preserving affordable rental housing and the Abt Associates report is a powerful testament to the Housing Credit’s success. It has financed more than 3 million affordable rental homes over the past 30 years, providing more than 7 million low-income families, seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities homes they can afford. Virtually no affordable rental housing development would occur without the Housing Credit.

Despite the Housing Credit’s tremendous success, much more affordable housing is still needed to meet the vast and growing demand nationwide. According to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, nearly 20 million renter households pay more than 30 percent or more of their incomes for rent, and 11 million pay more than half their income.

The ACTION Campaign urges Congress to enact the bipartisan Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (H.R. 1661/S. 548) as a critical solution to address the nationwide shortage of affordable housing. Visit our Advocacy Toolkit for more information about the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act and resources to advocate for this critical legislation.

September ACTION Update: House Returns from August Recess, OCC Seeks Comments on CRA Modernization

House Returns from August Recess, Eyes Potential Tax Legislation

The House returns to Washington today with a busy agenda ahead of the November mid-term elections, including a September 30 deadline to reach an agreement with the Senate on funding for fiscal year (FY) 2019. House leadership has also indicated its desire to advance Tax Reform 2.0, an effort to make the individual tax cuts in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 permanent, among other changes. We expect that House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) will soon introduce legislation that follows the framework he released last month, and that the Committee will consider it. However, due to time constraints as well as political considerations, it is possible that the bill may not come to the House floor in the near term. It is also unlikely that Tax Reform 2.0 will garner the 60 votes needed to pass in the Senate. ACTION is closely following the proposal and will weigh in to support the preservation of multifamily Housing Bonds if it appears the bill might target Private Activity Bonds. 

Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act Update

The House version of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (H.R. 1661) gained two additional co-sponsors over the August recess – Rep. David Roe (R-TN-1) and Rep. John Duncan Jr. (R-TN-2). This brings total co-sponsorship on the House bill to 162 members, including 86 Democrats and 76 Republicans. The Senate version of the bill (S. 548) remains at 40 co-sponsors, with 28 Democrats, 10 Republicans and two Independents. We thank all ACTION Campaign members who hosted site visits and property tours for elected officials over the August recess and encourage you to share any press releases from the events.

It remains likely that Congress could consider tax legislation in the Lame Duck session after the election, which is our best opportunity to advance more provisions of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (S. 548/H.R. 1661) this year. We continue to seek increased co-sponsorship to position the Housing Credit as strongly as possible heading into potential legislative negotiations.We encourage all Housing Credit stakeholders to continue reaching out to your elected officials who have not yet signed onto the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act and urge them to do so. We also encourage stakeholders to thank your members of Congress who have already co-sponsored the legislation to reinforce their support heading into potential negotiations. Visit our Advocacy Toolkit for resources to reach out to Congress, including updated talking points on multifamily Housing Bonds.

OCC Seeks Comments on CRA Modernization

Last week the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) released an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) seeking stakeholder comments on modernizing the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA).CRA was enacted in 1977, and requires financial institutions to lend to creditworthy borrowers in low- and moderate-income communities within their assessment area – the geographic area surrounding an institution’s depository locations. Banks can receive credit for investing in certain affordable housing and community development programs, including the Housing Credit. TheANPR seeks stakeholder input on: increasing lending and services to low- and moderate-income communities; clarifying and expanding the types of CRA-eligible activities; defining assessment areas; making CRA evaluation more transparent; improving the timeliness of CRA regulations; and reducing the regulatory burden of CRA performance evaluations. Comments are due 75 days after the ANPR is formally published in the Federal Register. ACTION will be submitting comments to ensure that any changes to CRA retain a robust Housing Credit investment market.

House to Hold Hearing on the Cost of Regulation on Affordable Multifamily Development

The House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on September 5 entitled “The Cost of Regulation on Affordable Multifamily Development.” The hearing will identify regulatory barriers to developing affordable housing, assess how these barriers affect the costs of building and preserving affordable housing, and suggest policies to meet the future demand for affordable rental housing. ACTION thanks the Committee for their attention to affordable rental housing and looks forward to working with Congress to strengthen and expand the Housing Credit to address the vast and growing shortage of affordable housing.

August ACTION Update: Senators Propose Affordable Housing Task Force, New Fact Sheet Highlights the Importance of Enacting a Minimum 4 Percent Credit Rate

Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act Update

With the House in recess through September 3 and the Senate focused primarily on non-tax issues, ACTION is preparing for the next opportunity to advance the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, which will mostly likely be in the lame-duck session after the November midterm elections. ACTION continues to seek increased co-sponsorship in both the House and Senate to ensure broad support for the Housing Credit in any upcoming legislative negotiations. The House version (H.R. 1661) of the bill now has 160 co-sponsors, including 86 Democrats and 74 Republicans. Recent additions include Rep. Daniel Kildee (D-MI-5), Rep. John Curtis (R-UT-3), and Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC-6). The Senate version of the bill (S. 548) remains at 40 co-sponsors, with 28 Democrats, 10 Republicans and two Independents. 

We encourage all ACTION Campaign members to use the recess while members are in their districts to thank co-sponsors of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act and continue to share your support for the legislation with any members who have not yet signed on. We also encourage Housing Credit stakeholders to invite your representatives to visit local Housing Credit developments while the House is in their home districts on recess through September 3. The Senate will also be on recess the week of August 6th. Site visits are a great way to show members of Congress firsthand how Housing Credit developments impact their communities and constituents. Visit our Advocacy Toolkit for sample language to invite elected officials to tour Housing Credit developments.

Senators Introduce Bipartisan Affordable Housing Task Force Bill

Senators Todd Young (R-IN), Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Angus King (I-ME) introduced the Task Force on the Impact of the Affordable Housing Crisis Act (S. 3231), which seeks to establish a bipartisan task force to evaluate how our nation’s severe shortage of affordable housing impacts other, non-housing government programs and the quality of life for people across the nation. Other co-sponsors of the legislation include Senators Dean Heller (R-NV), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Doug Jones (D-AL), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Christopher Coons (D-DE), and John Kennedy (R-LA). 

ACTION applauds this group of bipartisan Senators for their attention to affordable housing, and we encourage Congress to enact the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (S. 548) as a critical part of the solution. We also encourage ACTION Campaign members to reach out to Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Marco Rubio (R-FL), John Kennedy (R-LA), and Doug Jones (D-AL) to thank them for their support for affordable housing and encourage them to co-sponsor the Cantwell-Hatch Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (S. 548) to help address the issue. Visit our Advocacy Toolkit for sample language to reach out to your elected officials.

New Fact Sheet Highlights the Importance of Enacting a Minimum 4 Percent Credit Rate

Last week the ACTION Campaign released a new fact sheet explaining how the 4 percent Housing Credit works and the importance of establishing a minimum 4 percent Housing Credit rate, as proposed in the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act. The fact sheet explains how the floating Credit rate for the 4 percent program provides far less equity to developments than what Congress intended, and highlights the benefits of creating a fixed rate, such as filling critical financing gaps for developing affordable homes, providing more market certainty in Housing Credit financing, and allowing for greater flexibility and discretion for states to finance high-priority developments. Visit the Advocacy Toolkit to access this fact sheet, along with other advocacy resources to support the Housing Credit. 

Democratic Representatives Introduce New Housing Credit Bill

Last week Representatives James Clyburn (D-SC-6) and Suzan DelBene (D-WA-1) introduced the Restoring Tax Credits for Affordable Housing Act (H.R. 6542), which would modify the formula for calculating the amount of Housing Credits and increase the national cap on allocated Credits. The bill is intended to restore the reduced Housing Credit production resulting from the lower corporate tax rate that was enacted in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. While we do not expect this bill to advance this year, ACTION appreciates Rep. Clyburn and DelBene’s attention to this critical issue.

July ACTION Update: New Fact Sheet Links the Housing Credit to Positive Health Outcomes, Annual Reports Highlight Continued Housing Affordability Challenges

Support Continues to Grow for the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act

The House version (H.R. 1661) of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act now has 157 co-sponsors, including 84 Democrats and 73 Republicans. Recent additions include Rep. Donald Norcross (D-NJ-1), Rep. G. K. Butterfield (D-NC-1), Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX-23), Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC-9), Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY-6), Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY-6), Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-9), and Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA-3). The Senate version of the bill (S. 548) remains at 40 co-sponsors, with 28 Democrats, 10 Republicans and two Independents. We encourage all ACTION Campaign members to thank your representatives for co-sponsoring the bill, and continue to share your support for the legislation with any members who have not yet signed on.

August recess has been cancelled for the Senate, but members of the House will be in their home districts from July 27 through September 3, offering a great opportunity to show members of Congress firsthand how Housing Credit developments impact their communities and constituents. ACTION also encourages Housing Credit advocates to share how the recent 12.5 percent expansion of the Housing Credit has enabled affordable housing development that would not otherwise have been possible. For advocacy resources and tools for reaching out to members of Congress, visit the ACTION Campaign’s advocacy toolkit.

New ACTION Campaign Fact Sheet Links Affordable Housing to Improved Health Outcomes

ACTION has released a new fact sheet highlighting the role of the Housing Credit in improving health outcomes for low-income families and communities. The fact sheet explores the growing body of evidence linking affordable housing to positive health outcomes and public health care savings, as well as the potential benefits of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act in creating healthy homes, including the adoption of provisions that would support the development of supportive housing for the chronically homeless. The ACTION Campaign has previously released fact sheets that document the Housing Credit’s benefits for ruralseniorveterans and Native American communities, and others that describe the benefits of using the Housing Credit for the recapitalization of existing affordable housing and the creation of supportive housing. Visit the ACTION Campaign’s Advocacy Toolkit to access these fact sheets. 

New Reports Highlight Continued Affordability Challenges in the Rental Market

The Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) at Harvard University has released the State of the Nation’s Housing 2018 report, finding that renter households are still widely cost-burdened and federal housing assistance to low-income households continues to fall short of demand. According to JCHS, 20.8 million renter households were cost-burdened in 2016, paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing, and nearly 11 million renter households were severely cost-burdened, paying more than 50 percent of their income on housing.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s (NLIHC) Out of Reach 2018 report also finds that renters need to earn an hourly wage of $22.10 – nearly $15.00 higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour – in order to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment in the U.S. In no jurisdiction can a worker earning the federal minimum wage or prevailing state minimum wage afford a two-bedroom rental home at fair market rent by working a standard 40-hour week. In fact, the report finds that a renter earning the federal minimum wage would need to work 99 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom rental home at the national average Fair Market Rent and 122 hours per week – that is, three full-time jobs – to afford a two-bedroom apartment.

As communities across the country continue to struggle against a shortage of affordable housing and rising costs, a new white paper from Enterprise Community Partners draws on the successes of some of the country’s most expensive cities to offer options for communities working to address the scarcity of affordable homes and the rising cost of development. The paper focuses on four key strategies: leveraging existing assets, creating public funding opportunities, utilizing land use controls and improving the approval process.

June ACTION Update: Rep. Curbelo Circulates Dear Colleague Letter, New Reports Show Housing Credit Success

Rep. Curbelo Circulates Dear Colleague Letter Urging Support for the Housing Credit

Representative Carlos Curbelo (R-FL-26) is circulating a Dear Colleague letter asking his House colleagues to co-sponsor the bipartisan Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (H.R. 1661). Rep. Curbelo was an original co-sponsor of H.R. 1661 and assumed the role of lead sponsor when former Representative Pat Tiberi (R-OH) left Congress in January. In the letter, Curbelo states that the legislation “will make the Housing Credit more flexible, simplify program requirements, support the preservation of existing affordable housing, facilitate Housing Credit development in challenging markets and for hard-to-reach populations, and institute other modifications to make the Credit an even more effective program.”

ACTION encourages all Housing Credit stakeholders to share this Dear Colleague letter with your representatives and ask them to cosponsor the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act. Visit our Advocacy Toolkit for resources to contact your member of Congress and advocate for the Housing Credit.

With the recent addition of Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA-6) and Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC-6), H.R 1661 currently has 149 total co-sponsors, including 79 Democrats and 70 Republicans. Senator Thomas Carper (D-DE) has also co-sponsored S. 548, companion legislation in the Senate, resulting in 40 total co-sponsors, including 28 Democrats, ten Republicans, and two Independents. ACTION continues to thank Congress for enacting two provisions from the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, as well as advocate for the enactment of the remaining provisions in the bill.

Affordable Housing Crisis Necessitates Additional Investments in the Housing Credit

A recent article in The New York Times Upshot highlights the rising demand for affordable housing and the scarcity of available resources across the country. Last fall, 6,580 households applied for 95 affordable units in the Natalie Gubb Commons development in San Francisco. This translates to 70 applicants per unit, an overwhelming display of need for affordable rental housing. The Housing Credit is our nation’s most critical tool for the production of new and preservation of existing affordable housing, but the reduction of the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 has reduced Credit pricing, resulting in less overall production. Enacting the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, including the 50 percent increase in Housing Credit allocation authority, would make up for the lost production resulting from tax reform and further strengthen this already successful program.

New Study Finds that Residents Benefit from Living in Housing Credit Properties

A new analysis by the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley looks at how residents benefit from living in Housing Credit properties, particularly with regard to housing stability, economic mobility, and access to education. The analysis, which is based on interviews and surveys with over 250 residents in 18 properties across California, shows that one in five of those surveyed reported that they had experienced homelessness before moving into their current Housing Credit unit, and 20 percent stated that they had been forced to move involuntarily – either as the result of an eviction or rent increase. In contrast, living in a Housing Credit building was found to provide much needed housing stability, allowing residents to improve their work prospects and invest in their own and their children’s education. The study provides an important snapshot of the experiences of Housing Credit tenants in California, and demonstrates the positive impact of this important tool in the affordable housing landscape.

CohnReznick Report Shows Historic Housing Credit Performance

CohnReznick released its annual report on Housing Credit properties, which tracks the performance, historical analysis, and trends of more than 20,000 properties and 1.7 million apartments across the country. The report was also accompanied by a new online interactive tool, which provides access to performance data on Housing Credit properties down to the county level. The analysis shows that Housing Credit properties are operating better than in any period during the program’s history, supported by high physical occupancy rates (97.9%, the highest since CohnReznik began collecting data), strong economic occupancy, improved debt coverage ratio, and dramatically increased per-unit cash flow. The report also reveals that the Housing Credit industry has made significant strides in improving the quality of underwriting and asset management in properties, upholding the favorable operating performance metrics. However, given the rising demand for affordable housing, which contributes to the historically high occupancy rates, it remains critical to strengthen and expand the Housing Credit to meet the growing need. 

Democrats Send Letter to Bank Regulators on CRA Reform

16 Democratic senators sent a letter to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) urging the banking regulators to amend the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) in a way that increases opportunities for minorities. Led by Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), the letter underscores the positive contributions of the CRA to low- and moderate-income communities, while noting that changes to the implementation of the CRA are overdue. The letter endorses a number of recommendations for CRA improvement that the Treasury Department released in April, while also expressing concern over other suggestions. ACTION continues to monitor any proposed changes to the CRA because of its potential impact on the Housing Credit investor market.