Yesterday Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2016 (S. 3237), a comprehensive bill to expand and strengthen the Housing Credit. Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) also joined as an original co-sponsor. See the ACTION Campaign statement thanking Senators Cantwell, Hatch and Wyden for their leadership in this effort to expand and strengthen the Housing Credit.
S. 3237 is comprehensive legislation that will make significant strides towards addressing our nation’s severe shortage of affordable housing. Not only would it raise the cap on Housing Credit allocation authority by 50 percent, but it would also make numerous programmatic modifications to strengthen and streamline the Credit, support the preservation of existing affordable housing, and facilitate Housing Credit development in challenging markets.
This legislation builds on an earlier version of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (S. 2962), introduced by Senators Cantwell and Hatch in May 2016. Senators Cantwell and Hatch will continue to seek cosponsors for S. 2962, which already has strong bipartisan support, while also beginning to make the case for the reforms in this new legislation.
S. 3237 includes all of the provisions from S. 2962, which would:
- Expand the annual Housing Credit allocation by 50 percent. This would make a meaningful step towards addressing our nation’s vast and growing affordable housing needs by enabling the creation or preservation of up to 400,000 new affordable homes over the next decade.
- Make affordable housing financing more predictable and feasible by creating a permanent minimum 4 percent Housing Credit rate for acquisition and for Housing Bond-financed properties.
- Permit income averaging within Housing Credit properties in order to preserve rigorous targeting while providing more flexibility and responsiveness to local needs.
S. 3237 also adds numerous programmatic modifications that will further strengthen the Housing Credit by:
- Making Housing Credit administration more predictable and streamlined,
- Supporting the preservation of existing affordable housing,
- Facilitating Housing Credit development in challenging markets like rural and Native American communities, and
- Increasing the Housing Credit’s ability to serve extremely low-income tenants.
“The Housing Credit leverages private equity investment to create 100,000 jobs in our communities each year,” Senator Cantwell said in a statement. “Senator Hatch and I want to expand this proven economic development tool and job creation engine to provide even more affordable housing that America desperately needs.” The statement also notes that Senator Cantwell has partnered with ACTION on a national campaign to build support for expanding the Housing Credit.
“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,” said Senator Hatch. “I applaud Senator Cantwell for her leadership on this issue.”