June 06, 2023

Cortez Masto, Cassidy Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Help Working Families Afford Their First Homes

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Affordable Housing Bond Enhancement Act, which would make homeownership more accessible for working families. The bill would improve tax credits and interest subsidies for first-time homebuyers by bolstering the Mortgage Revenue Bond (MRB) program and Mortgage Credit Certificates (MCC) that have helped nearly 4 million low- and moderate-income families purchase their first home.

Families with incomes of 115% of Area Median Income or less are able to receive discounted interest rates when they buy a home with a MRB or qualify for a small annual tax credit that helps families qualify to buy a home and allows them to sustain homeownership over time. Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-Wisc.-04) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 117th Congress and will reintroduce the bill soon.

“The opportunity to own a home is an important piece of the American Dream. That’s why I’m fighting to help families afford a home through federal tax investments that provide lower interest rates and annual tax credits that help families with their mortgage,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “My bipartisan bill will help more Nevadans be able to own and improve their homes, and I won’t stop working to lower housing costs in Nevada and across the states.”

“Middle-class Americans should not be priced out of the American Dream because of rapid inflation and sluggish economic growth,” said Dr. Cassidy. “This bill helps families achieve that dream of homeownership.”

“The National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) thanks Senators Cortez Masto and Cassidy for introducing the Affordable Housing Bond Enhancement Act, which will expand access to homeownership for low- and moderate-income home buyers,” said Stockton Williams, executive director of NCSHA. “Mortgage Revenue Bonds and Mortgage Credit Certificates historically have been the state housing finance agencies’ primary tool for financing affordable homeownership opportunities for working families, having helped nearly four million home buyers combined. This legislation will enact a series of simple, commonsense reforms to the MRB and MCC programs that will allow HFAs to better stretch their resources and help more underserved households.”

MRB and MCC programs help thousands of working Nevadans become homeowners. Cortez Masto and Cassidy’s legislation makes updates and reforms to the MRB and MCC programs to better serve working families and help Housing Finance Agencies support homeownership for more Americans.  

Specifically, the Affordable Housing Bond Enhancement Act would: 

  • Simplify the administration of both MRB and MCC programs and make commonsense changes to use tax benefits to aid working families and add additional flexibility for borrowers.
  • Allow homeowners to refinance their mortgages with MRB loans lowering costs for homeowners.
  • Increase the amount of money homeowners with MRB loans can direct towards making home health and safety improvements—including adding accessible bathrooms and ramps to help older and disabled Americans remain in their home, as well as supporting energy efficiency upgrades or disaster mitigation renovations. The bill raises the current limit of $15,000 to $50,000 and indexes it for inflation.
  • Provide housing finance agencies with flexibility to extend loan and credit periods to account for delays due to the pandemic, supply chain issues, or construction shortages.  
  • Only require the issuers, not the lenders, to report MCC recipients to the IRS for tax accuracy and shorten the lengthy 90-day public notice requirement to 30 days to encourage more widespread use of the MCC program.

This bipartisan legislation is endorsed by the National Council of State Housing Agencies, LISC, National Association of REALTORS, National Association of Homebuilders, and the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Full text of the bill is available HERE.

Senator Cortez Masto has been a leader in the fight to lower housing costs and keep Nevadans in their homes. As Attorney General, she led the fight to hold Big Banks accountable for the foreclosure crisis, delivering $1.9 billion to homeowners in Nevada. In the Senate, she is a reliable champion of affordable housing. She successfully pushed to secure affordable housing funding from the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco (FHLB-SF) for Nevada through a targeted fund, leading national efforts to ensure the FHLB System is directing adequate funding toward affordable housing and community development. Her support for COVID-relief programs provided more than $399 million in emergency rental and utility assistance to tens of thousands of Nevada households and more than $600 million to build and preserve affordable housing in the state. Federal funds she delivered will provide more than 7,129 new affordable units to Nevada families this year with a similar number expected next year – nearly double the state’s pre-pandemic amount, adding to our current inventory of 44,000 subsidized units.