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.