December ACTION Newsletter: Legislative Outlook; Letter to IRS Urging Housing Credit Relief

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The ACTION Campaign monthly call will be held on Friday, December 4 at 2:00 PM EST. We encourage all who are able to join to sign-on via video.

ACTION Updates

Legislative Outlook & Housing Credit Advocacy Strategy

The current continuing resolution (CR) funding the federal government expires on December 11. With this deadline fast approaching, Congressional leaders from both parties are seeking to package together the individual Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 appropriations bills into an omnibus appropriations bill. They took the first major step towards passing an omnibus the week of Thanksgiving, having reached agreement on the topline spending levels for each of the individual appropriations bills (commonly referred to as the “302(b) levels”); though as of this writing, those topline numbers have not been released publicly. However, it remains unclear whether members of Congress will finish negotiating the details of those bills before the CR expires. If not, Congress would have to pass another CR to give themselves more time to do so.

The incoming Biden administration has signaled its desire for Congress to pass Covid relief as soon as possible, and before the new President takes office. However, the two parties remain at odds over the size and scope of Covid relief legislation. If they do reach an agreement, it is possible that Covid-19 relief could move along with omnibus appropriations legislation.

An omnibus appropriations bill could also be the vehicle for tax legislation, which would present an opportunity to advance the 4 percent minimum rate and other key ACTION proposals. Congress historically considers expiring tax provisions – commonly called tax extenders – during the end-of-year window, which could serve as further impetus to pass tax legislation.

The ACTION Campaign stands ready to mobilize should a moving vehicle provide an opportunity for the inclusion of our Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) priorities. We encourage our ACTION members and supporters to continue to elevate the Housing Credit to congressional leadership and to be on the lookout for any last-minute ACTION advocacy alerts in the weeks ahead.

ACTION Co-Chair NCSHA Sends Letter to IRS Urging Housing Credit Relief; 140 Organizations Sign Letter of Support

On November 16, ACTION co-chair, the National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA), sent a letter to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) urging them to extend and expand Covid-19 relief for the Housing Credit program. Since then, 140 organizations came together to send a joint letter to the IRS and Treasury in support of NCSHA’s request.

In its letter, NCSHA urges the IRS to extend its initial, temporary relief of certain Housing Credit requirements (Notice 2020-53) from December 31, 2020 through at least September 30, 2021. In addition, NCSHA urges the IRS and Treasury to make four additional accommodations to keep the Housing Credit program operating effectively during the pandemic. These include:

  1. A 12-month extension of the placed-in-service deadline for all developments allocated Housing Credits in calendar years 2018 – 2021;

  2. A 12-month extension of the year-end deadline for property restoration for any property that suffers a casualty loss not associated with a major disaster during 2020;

  3. A 12-month extension for all open noncompliance corrective action periods; and

  4. Guidance clarifying Housing Credit allocating agencies may conduct telephonic hearings to satisfy public approval requirements for qualified allocation plans until September 30, 2021.

The strong showing of support for NCSHA’s letter highlights the urgent need for additional Housing Credit regulatory relief in light of the continued disruption of the pandemic. Click here to read a synopsis of NCSHA’s recommendations to the IRS.

Other Regulatory Deadline Reminders

Average Income Test. The IRS has published a notice of proposed rulemaking on the Housing Credit Average Income Test (AIT). ACTION Steering Committee members are currently working to compile key talking points that Housing Credit stakeholder groups could use in their own AIT comments to the IRS. ACTION will circulate those as soon as they are ready. Comments on the proposed rule are due on December 29, 2020.

CRA Modernization. The Federal Reserve Board of Governors, one of the three regulators of financial institutions charged with overseeing Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) compliance, published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) to modernize the CRA. ACTION Steering Committee members are examining the proposal with an eye towards its impact on the Housing Credit. Comments on the Fed’s ANPR are due on February 16, 2021.

*To learn more about either proposed rule, check out last month’s ACTION newsletter.

ACTION Membership

The ACTION Campaign is pleased to welcome the following new members, who joined our coalition in November:

  • Alabama Arise, Alabama

  • Low Income Housing Coalition of Alabama, Alabama

  • Empower Missouri, Missouri

  • Kansas Statewide Homeless Coalition, Kansas

  • Texas Homeless Network, Texas

ACTION is the largest coalition of Housing Credit advocates in the country. Help our coalition continue to grow by inviting your state and local partners to join ACTION.

Housing Credit Research

Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies Releases The State of the Nation’s Housing 2020

The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University has released its annual report, The State of the Nation’s Housing 2020. The report finds that the economic fallout of Covid-19 has exacerbated the rental housing affordability crisis and calls for “a comprehensive re-envisioning of national housing policy.” It finds that low-income renters of color are particularly vulnerable to the economic effects of the pandemic, that the number of Americans experiencing homelessness is on the rise, and that there remain wide racial disparities in homeownership across the country. Click here to read a recent blog post from ACTION co-chair, Enterprise Community Partners, outlining five key findings from the report.

Housing Credit In the News

  • A November 5 New York Times piece, “Residents Feared Low-Income Housing Would Ruin Their Suburb. It Didn’t.,” details the development of a Housing Credit property in New Berlin, Milwaukee and debunks the assumption that affordable housing developments increase crime or decrease neighborhood property values.

  • A November 18 Shelterforce article, “LIHTC Preservation and the Need for Rental Assistance,” details the need to preserve Housing Credit properties that are reaching the end of their 30-year affordability restrictions as well as the need for additional rental assistance for tenants struggling to afford rent.

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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