Celebrating 30 Years of the Housing Credit

This Saturday marks the 30th anniversary of the creation of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit), our nation’s primary tool for encouraging private investment in affordable rental housing. On October 22, 1986, President Reagan signed the Tax Reform Act of 1986 into law, authorizing the Housing Credit with bipartisan support.

This bipartisan support has continued over the Housing Credit’s 30 year history. After its initial temporary authorization, the Housing Credit was made permanent and expanded under President Clinton, and strengthened under both President Bush and President Obama.

The Housing Credit’s Impact

Senator George Mitchell (D-ME), who helped to create the Housing Credit in 1986, has said that “the program is exceeding our expectations in every respect” and that even its supporters in Congress did not “envision that it would become the most successful affordable housing program ever created in this country.”

Since 1986, the Housing Credit has enabled the development of over 2.9 million apartments, providing affordable homes to roughly 6.7 million low-income families. The development of these apartments has supported 3.25 million jobs, and generated $310 billion in local income and $122 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues. See our updated fact sheets for more information about the impact of the Housing Credit in every state.

Looking Ahead to the Housing Credit’s Fourth Decade

Though the Housing Credit and other federal housing assistance programs have had a tremendous impact, our nation still faces vast and growing affordable housing needs. Over 11.4 million low-income households still pay more than half of their income on rent, leaving too little for other necessities like transportation, health care and food.

Earlier this year, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2016 to expand the Housing Credit by 50 percent and enact other provisions to further strengthen the program. This legislation is critical: while the affordable housing crisis has grown, the Housing Credit has not been expanded since 2000. ACTION will continue to work to expand the Housing Credit so that it can have an even greater impact going forward.

A Look Back at the Bipartisan Support for the Housing Credit

  • “Why shouldn’t the tax system be used for a socially desirable goal like housing low-income people in America?” – Former HUD Secretary Jack Kemp
  • “The [Bipartisan Policy Center’s Housing] Commission believes that the most successful, effective way to deliver governmental support for low-income housing has been the LIHTC program because it inspires competitive designs. It sets the bar high in terms of the quality of sites and locations. It draws private-sector techniques from design to management. It draws private-sector investment. It has rational ways to select what is the best.” – Former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros
  • “The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit is our nation’s most effective program supporting the preservation and construction of affordable rental homes.” –Senator George Mitchell (D-ME)
  • “By building more affordable housing units across the United States, more people can have a shot at the American Dream.” – Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
  • “We are creating certainty for developers to create construction and renovation jobs while increasing housing availability for more low-income families, veterans, seniors and individuals living with disabilities.” – Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH)
  • “With this legislation, we can help lift local communities across the country and ensure more individuals and families with limited means have better access to affordable housing.” – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
  • “I have long supported the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and will push for its inclusion in any tax reform plan to be considered by Congress… The program has been particularly important in Kansas, where numerous projects have been put online in rural areas, for returning military personnel, and for veterans by using the low-income housing tax credit.” – Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS)
  • “It is vital we ensure access to this critical resource across the board for all our citizens wherever they may reside across our great state and nation.” –Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME)