November 06, 2019

Cortez Masto Cosponsors Bipartisan Legislation to Increase Affordable Housing, Create Jobs

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) cosponsored bipartisan legislation to increase investment in affordable housing and create hundreds of thousands of jobs. Introduced by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act would expand and strengthen the Affordable Housing Tax Credit to build more units of affordable housing and better serve a number of at-risk and underserved communities.

“Nevada faces one of the worst affordable housing shortages in the country. Expanding the successful Affordable Housing Tax Credit will ensure we’re meeting the challenge posed by a growing population and increasing rents, all the while creating good-paying jobs for Nevadans. This legislation also ensures investments are reaching the communities that need them most, including our homeless veterans, tribal members, domestic violence survivors, and rural residents. I’m proud to join this bipartisan effort to address America’s affordable housing crisis.”

BACKGROUND:

Across the United States, the expanded Affordable Housing Tax Credit would produce roughly 1.9 million new affordable housing units over the next decade, an increase of more than 550,000 units more than would be built without the legislation. The bill increases the total number of affordable housing units built by: 

  • Increasing the amount of credits allocated to each state by 50% over current levels, resulting in the production of more than 384,000 more affordable homes in the next 10 years than would otherwise be created.
  • Stabilizing the value of the 4% Affordable Housing Tax Credit, which is used for new construction that uses additional subsidies or the acquisition cost of existing buildings. This will create more certainty for ongoing and new projects and increase affordable housing production by more than 66,000 units.
  • Expanding and reforming “recycling” of multifamily housing bonds, allowing states to maximize the available resources of private activity bonds by recycling multifamily bonds for affordable housing, resulting in 100,000 additional affordable housing units. 

In addition to expanding the number of affordable homes built in the United States, the legislation makes a number of key reforms to strengthen the Affordable Housing Tax Credit. These reforms will: 

  • Create veteran-specific housing optionsThe legislation stipulates that the Affordable Housing Tax Credit can be used to support housing for veterans.
  • Better target extremely low-income populations. The legislation increases, by 50%, the amount of credits available to developments serving extremely low-income populations or those with special needs, such as formerly homeless veterans.
  • Boost affordable housing in Indian Country. The legislation classifies projects in Indian Country as Difficult to Develop Areas, increasing the amount of credits available to affordable housing projects in these areas. The legislation also requires states to consider the needs of their Native American communities by establishing new selection criteria for projects.
  • Boost affordable housing to rural communities. The legislation gives states the ability to increase the amount of credits available to projects in rural areas.
  • Protect victims of domestic violence and stalking. The legislation will bring all properties built using the Affordable Housing Tax Credit in line with Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) standards to better protect victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
  • Opens affordable housing properties to more low-income students. The legislation simplifies current rules to ensure non-traditional students, such as single parents, veterans, formerly homeless youth, and domestic violence survivors, have access to affordable housing properties. Previously the rule was overly complex and differed from other HUD-finance housing rules. 

Since its creation 30 years ago, the Affordable Housing Tax Credit has built or rehabilitated more than 3.2 million affordable housing units, leveraging more than $190 billion in private investment to do so. During that time, the credit has been responsible for nearly 90 percent of all federally-funded affordable housing. Between 1986-2013, more than 13.3 million people lived in homes financed by the Affordable Housing Tax Credit.