ACTION Alert: Senators Wyden and Cantwell Introduce Housing Credit Bill

Today, Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) introduced standalone Senate companion legislation to the Housing Credit provisions included in The Moving Forward Act, H.R. 2, the infrastructure legislation released in the House earlier this week. Senators Wyden and Cantwell’s bill, The Emergency Affordable Housing Act of 2020, S.4078 (see bill text, one-page summary, and detailed summary), is cosponsored by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Ben Cardin (D-MD).

Like the Moving Forward Act, the Wyden-Cantwell bill includes all of the ACTION Campaign’s legislative priorities for Covid-19 relief, such as a permanent 4 percent Housing Credit rate, as well as several priorities that ACTION partners have been pursuing through regulatory relief. Many of the provisions are also based on those in the bipartisan Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (AHCIA), S.1703 and H.R.3077, and other provisions are new Housing Credit proposals.

The ACTION Campaign applauds Ranking Member Wyden and Senator Cantwell’s continued leadership in advancing our Housing Credit priorities.

The Emergency Affordable Housing Act of 2020 would:

  • permanently increase the annual Housing Credit authority from $2.81 per capita to $4.56 per capita, and increase the small state minimum from $3,217,500 to $5,214,051, both phased in over two years;

  • set a permanent minimum 4 percent rate for tax-exempt bond-financed properties;

  • lower the “financed-by” threshold for tax-exempt bond financing necessary to trigger the 4 percent Housing Credit from 50 percent to 25 percent;

  • establish new 30 percent basis boosts for properties in rural areas, Indian areas, and for bond-financed properties for which the state agency determines a basis boost is needed for financial feasibility;

  • establish a new 50 percent basis boost for properties in which at least 20 percent of the units are reserved for and affordable to extremely low-income (ELI) households (the basis boost would be available proportionally based on the percent of ELI units in the property);

  • provide states an increase of 10 percent above their annual Housing Credit ceiling to finance properties receiving the afore mentioned ELI basis boost;

  • temporarily extend the 10 percent test and placed in service deadlines by 12 months, applicable to properties that receive an allocation of Credits between December 31, 2016 and January 1, 2022;

  • temporarily extend the rehabilitation expenditure deadline by 12 months, applicable to properties that receive an allocation of Credits between December 31, 2016 and January 1, 2022;

  • repeal the “Qualified Contract” provision in the tax code that allows owners to terminate the affordability restrictions on a property before the end of the property’s extended use period for properties that receive an allocation of Credits after January 1, 2020; and for existing properties, modify the Qualified Contract price to base it on fair market value as restricted;

  • prohibit requirements for local approval or local contributions as a condition of receiving Credits and remove the requirement that state agencies notify the local elected officials in areas in which a proposed building would be located;

  • establish a taxpayer election to receive an accelerated 150 percent first-year credit to offset delays resulting from the COVID-19 crisis; and

  • create a new 25 percent tax credit for contributions to a qualified supportive housing reserve fund for Housing Credit properties.

Krista D'Alessandro is the senior tax policy analyst at Enterprise Community Partners. The ACTION Campaign is co-chaired by Enterprise and the National Council of State Housing Agencies.

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