Walorski Leads Bipartisan Legislation to Build Two Million Affordable Housing Units Nationwide

Friday, April 16, 2021

Walorski Leads Bipartisan Legislation to Build Two Million Affordable Housing Units Nationwide

Strengthened Low Income Housing Tax Credit Would Expand Housing for Vulnerable Americans, Including Veterans, Seniors, and Those with Special Needs

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) this week joined a bipartisan, bicameral group of U.S. Representatives and Senators in introducing legislation to address the affordable housing crisis by strengthening the Low Income Housing Tax Credit.

As millions of Americans experience increasing housing insecurity and communities throughout the country face affordable housing shortages and high levels of homelessness, the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2021 would build more than two million new affordable housing units nationwide in the next 10 years and better meet the needs of at-risk groups.

Walorski introduced the legislation with U.S. Representatives Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), and Don Beyer (D-Va.), and U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Rob Portman (R-Ohio).

“As we get closer to defeating COVID-19 and rebuilding our economy, improving access to affordable housing will play a critical role in our nation’s recovery,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “The Low Income Housing Tax Credit has proven to be an effective tool to drive investment in affordable rental housing and provide stability for vulnerable Americans, including veterans, seniors, and those with special needs. We have an opportunity to build on bipartisan reforms – including the four percent floor rate Congress established at the end of last year – by expanding and streamlining this successful program. I’m grateful to work across the aisle to address the affordable housing crisis, strengthen communities across the country, and ensure workers and families have the opportunity to achieve the American Dream.”

“As I travel around Indiana, one thing is clear: We need affordable housing now more than ever. This pandemic has strained the finances of countless Hoosier families and delayed the construction and rehabilitation of the existing housing supply, worsening an already concerning housing affordability problem across the country. Our bipartisan Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act will leverage private sector investment to increase the stock of affordable housing for families in both urban and rural communities thereby tackling the housing affordability crisis head on and leading to a better quality of life for Hoosiers,” said Senator Young.

“Our nation’s need for more affordable housing is at an all-time high because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress should leverage the proven success of the Housing Credit to build more affordable housing units that will help more families find a safe place to call home,” said Rep. DelBene. “This legislation has earned the support of a bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives in the past. Now it’s time to get it over the finish line and increase affordable housing production across the country.”

“We want Americans to be empowered and to have the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty. One critical piece needed to achieve this goal is making sure there is enough affordable housing available for those who qualify. I’m pleased that this bill will help those in need, including homeless youth and veterans who seek access to affordable housing while pursuing an education,” said Rep. Wenstrup. “The pandemic has exacerbated what was already an affordable housing crisis, and this bipartisan bill will help the private sector meet the demand for that housing, providing some of the safety and stability required for working families to achieve the American Dream.”

“My community, like many others around the country, is facing a crisis in affordable housing,” said Rep. Beyer. “This bill would expand and update the most effective tool for financing affordable housing, and take a big step forward in addressing the massive need for affordable housing across the nation.”

BACKGROUND

According to Harvard University’s State of the Nation’s Housing 2020 report, more than 30 percent of all households nationwide—37.1 million American households—spent more than 30 percent of their income on housing. More than 17 million of those households were “severely cost burdened,” spending more than half their income on housing. These statistics come at the same time the United States is facing a nationwide shortage of 6.8 million affordable rental homes.

The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2021 would expand and strengthen the nation’s most successful affordable housing program – the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) – to address that shortage by building more than two million new affordable units over the next decade and ensuring the program better serves a variety of at-risk and underserved communities.

The legislation would:

  • Increase the amount of credits allocated to each state. The legislation would increase the number of credits available to states by 50 percent for the next two years and make the temporary 12.5 percent increase secured in 2018—which has already helped build more than 59,000 additional affordable housing units—permanent. This expansion would help build an estimated 299,000 affordable housing units over the next decade.
  • Increase the number of affordable housing projects that can be built using private activity bonds. This provision would stabilize financing for workforce housing projects built using private activity bonds by decreasing the amount of private activity bonds needed to secure LIHTC funding. As a result, projects would have to carry less debt, and more projects would be eligible to receive funding. This stabilization would help build as many as 1.5 million new units over the next decade.
  • Improve the LIHTC program to better serve at-risk and underserved communities. The legislation would also make a number of improvements to the program to better serve veterans, victims of domestic violence, formerly homeless students, Native American communities, and rural Americans. Collectively these improvements would help build an estimated 222,000 new units over the next 10 years.

Since its creation, the Low Income Housing Tax Credit has built or rehabilitated more than 3.5 million affordable housing units – nearly 90 percent of all federally-funded affordable housing during that time. Roughly eight million American households have benefitted from the credit, and its activity has supported 5.5 million jobs and generated more than $617 billion in wages and business income.

A wide range of housing advocates and stakeholder groups support the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2021.

“The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act is the solution we need now to provide affordable homes for struggling renters and to help rebuild our economy and infrastructure,” said Emily Cadik, Executive Director of the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition. “We applaud the bipartisan sponsors for their leadership in introducing this legislation that would provide more than 2 million sorely needed affordable homes over the next decade.”

“NCSHA applauds Senators Cantwell, Young, Wyden and Portman and Representatives DelBene, Walorski, Beyer and Wenstrup for reintroducing the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, which would expand and strengthen America’s best tool for producing and preserving affordable rental housing—the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit.  Never has the importance of affordable housing been more clear—and its scarcity felt more severely—than now, a year into a global pandemic, when so many have faced housing instability.  It is imperative that Congress pass this bill this year,” said Stockton Williams, Executive Director of the National Council of State Housing Agencies.

“The National Association of Home Builders commends Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) for introducing the Affordable Housing Improvement Act, bipartisan legislation that would improve the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and spur the production of hundreds of thousands of additional multifamily units over the next decade,” said Chuck Fowke, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). “The nation is in the midst of a housing affordability crisis and the only effective long-term solution is to increase supply. With nearly 11 million renter households severely cost-burdened, the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act would greatly enhance our ability to meet the growing demand for more affordable rental units.”

“Throughout our 125-year history, Volunteers of America and its affiliated organizations across the country have seen first-hand that decent, safe housing for veterans is critical to the successful transition to civilian life. Enhancing the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, which provides resources necessary to expand veterans housing, will ensure that our Nation honors the sacrifices of all soldiers and their families by creating communities where they can thrive,” said Sharon Wilson Geno, Executive Vice President and Chief Operation Officer, Volunteers of America National Services.

“Enterprise appreciates the leadership of Senators Cantwell, Young, Wyden and Portman, as well as Representatives DelBene, Walorski, Beyer and Wenstrup on the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2021,” said Priscilla Almodovar, chief executive officer of Enterprise Community Partners. “This bill will address the shortage of affordable housing that has impacted so many families across the country, both now and before the pandemic.”

“The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act is a life changing piece of legislation that will alter the affordable housing landscape throughout the country.  The Housing Advisory Group, a national advocacy organization of affordable housing developers and practitioners, strongly supports the AHCIA’s introduction and will enthusiastically work to see it enacted into law. We salute the efforts of Senators Cantwell, Young, Wyden and Portman and Representatives DelBene, Walorski, Beyer and Wenstrup in championing this landmark legislation which will lead to the production and rehabilitation of much needed affordable housing for families, seniors, veterans and many more. As the country emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic, it is imperative that we address the needs of all citizens suffering the effects of the pandemic and accompanying economic downturn. The AHCIA will provide vital resources to meet the structural and housing infrastructure needs of the country,” said David Gasson, Executive Director of the Housing Advisory Group.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Ranking Member of the House Ethics Committee.

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