Today, a letter signed by 82 mayors representing cities and towns from 28 states across the country was sent to House and Senate leadership in support of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (AHCIA) of 2021. The letter, led by Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan and circulated in partnership with the ACTION Campaign, demonstrates the broad local and community-level support for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit). The letter calls on Congress to enact the legislation and will be sent to all members of the House and Senate with information on how to cosponsor the AHCIA of 2021.
As noted in the letter, the AHCIA of 2021 is bipartisan, bicameral legislation (H.R. 2573 and S. 1136) introduced by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Todd Young (R-IN), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Rob Portman (R-OH), and Representatives Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Don Beyer (D-VA), and Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) on April 15.
“As mayor of one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities, I deeply understand the critical need for Low-Income Housing Tax Credit investment for the preservation and production of affordable housing in large cities, small towns, rural communities, and everywhere in between,” said Mayor Durkan. “With COVID-19, too many families are on the brink of losing housing or have already fallen into homelessness. The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2021 would both strengthen and expand this important resource for affordable housing. Senator Cantwell has long been a leader to create more housing, and this type of investment is exactly what cities need to address housing shortages across the nation. I applaud my senator, as well as her fellow Senate and House colleagues on their introduction of this important federal legislation.”
Three major provisions of the legislation are estimated to finance two million additional affordable rental homes over ten years. These include a 50 percent increase in Housing Credit authority, phased in over two years, as well as the provision to increase and streamline Housing Credit developments financed with tax-exempt bonds by reducing the “50 percent test”—the percentage of project costs required to be bond-financed—to 25 percent. It also includes a provision granting state agencies greater flexibility in applying a “basis boost” to certain difficult-to-develop projects.
Changes from previous versions of the AHCIA include an improvement to the Housing Credit student rule provision to clarify that formerly homeless youth and victims of human trafficking are eligible for affordable housing, even if they are full-time students, and an update to the casualty loss provision to allow for a longer rebuilding period after natural disasters if necessary.
The AHCIA of 2021 also includes a number of other provisions that would help preserve existing affordable housing, facilitate Housing Credit development for extremely low-income households and in hard-to-serve communities, and provide state Housing Credit allocating agencies new tools to strengthen program administration.
For more information on the AHCIA of 2021, check out the video series by the ACTION Campaign explaining each of the provisions. The first tranche of the three-part series was released on May 18, with parts two and three being released in the coming weeks. In addition to the AHCIA of 2021 explainer videos, ACTION has a number of resources for advocates in its Advocacy Toolkit, including detailed information on the Housing Credit and the AHCIA; National, State, and Congressional District fact sheets; fact sheets tailored to specific communities and related policies; and more.