The lack of affordable housing is a significant and growing issue affecting the health, mental health and economic security of many older adults. The disturbing increases in senior homelessness—in some communities more than a third of homeless on the streets are now older adults—highlights the magnitude of the problem. That is why ASA’s Public Policy Committee has made creation of affordable housing units, and strategies to combat older adult homelessness, top priorities.
Financing affordable housing is complicated and often requires many different funding streams. One of the most important streams are Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC). The problem is that the credits are often highly competitive because their availability is so restricted, resulting in many vital affordable housing initiatives being stymied by lack of financial incentives.
In June, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate introduced the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (S. 1703/H.R. 3077) to increase investment in affordable housing and address seniors’ housing needs. The bill would increase LIHTC by 50 percent to encourage developers to build affordable rental housing. It would also stabilize the value of the 4 percent LIHTC rate to create more certainty for new and ongoing projects and allow multifamily housing bonds to be “recycled” and used for affordable housing. Other provisions of the bill would make the credit more effective in Native American and rural communities and allow the credit to be used for veteran-specific housing.
The bill would create or preserve 1.3 million affordable homes over a decade. This is an increase of about 400,000 units than are likely under the current LIHTC law, which has not been updated in over 30 years.
ASA is calling upon Congress to pass, and the President to sign, the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, as quickly as possible, and we need your help. Please contact your Member of Congress and both of your state’s U.S. Senators asking them to co-sponsor this bipartisan legislation and, of course, to vote in favor when it reaches the floor.
Here is a sample email:
On behalf of the American Society on Aging, I am writing to urge you to cosponsor H.R. 3077/S. 1703, the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act. This bill would update the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit for the first time in over 30 years to help address seniors’ affordable housing needs.
The nation’s senior population is growing rapidly, with about 10,000 Americans turning 65 each day. Unfortunately, the production of new housing units has not kept up, and many seniors struggle to find affordable housing options. Currently, the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit is the most important resource for creating affordable housing in the United States.
The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act would enhance this resource by increasing the credit by 50 percent. This would encourage developers to build more to address seniors’ unmet housing needs. Additionally, the bill would make the credit more effective in Native American and rural communities and allow the credit to be used for veteran-specific housing. If enacted, the legislation would create or preserve 1.3 million affordable homes over a decade, which is an increase of about 400,000 units than under the current law.
Let me know if you have any questions. And thank you for considering adding your name to this important bill.
To find your member of the House of Representatives, go to this link.
To find your U.S. Senator, go to this link.
The phone number for the U.S. Capitol is (202) 226-8000.
Please email ASA Public Policy Committee co-chair, Paul Downey, with any feedback from the elected officials you contact and/or if you have any questions. His email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Commonwealth currently has a shortage of over 156,000 homes affordable to families considered extremely low income, which, in Virginia, is equivalent to $20,950 for a family of three. For every 100 extremely low income households, there are only 37 affordable and available rental homes. Given the lack of affordable housing, 72 percent of extremely low-income renters pay more than half of their limited incomes on rent.
I am committed to relieving the financial burden on these families and making more affordable housing available.
That is why, earlier this year, I joined 42 of my colleagues in contacting the Appropriations Committee to express support for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) and the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program in FY2020. President Trump is calling for the elimination of these programs.
The HOME program is the only federal block grant program for state and local governments designed exclusively to produce affordable housing for low-income families. The program has successfully leveraged more than $130 billion of additional public and private funds for affordable housing across the country. Virginia received over $24.5 million in HOME funding for FY2019.
The CDBG program supports homeownership, housing rehabilitation, public improvements, and economic development projects, while encouraging additional local investment in low to moderate income communities. For every dollar contributed by CDBG funding, CDBG returns $4.09 to the community through additional public and private investments. Virginia received over $56.7 million in CDBG funding for FY2019.
In addition to my support for these programs, which are vital to combatting homelessness across the Commonwealth, I am also advocating for robust funding for the Community Development Loan Guarantee Program, and the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, or NeighborWorks America (NWA) program. These programs provide additional resources for neighborhood revitalization and expand opportunities for home ownership.
Again, thank you for contacting me. If there’s another issue that’s important to you or a question you’d like to ask, I invite you to send me a message through my website and follow my work in the Senate on Facebook and Twitter. You can also sign up for email updates here to get the latest on my work in the Senate. I look forward to hearing from you.
MARK R. WARNER
United States Senator
Thank you for contacting me about affordable housing. I appreciate hearing from you.
The low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) is the federal government's primary program to encourage the development and rehabilitation of affordable rental housing. The LIHTC provides a tax incentive to encourage investors to invest in the development, acquisition, and rehabilitation of affordable rental housing projects. Since 1986, the LIHTC has helped finance 90 percent of affordable housing projects-2.9 million rental homes-in the United States and leveraged more than $100 billion in private investment.
Senator Maria Cantwell has introduced the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2019, S. 1703, which has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee. This legislation would expand the LIHTC by 50 percent over five years, create or preserve 400,000 more units of affordable housing than projected under the LIHTC's current structure, and rename the LIHTC as the "Affordable Housing Tax Credit."
I am a strong supporter of the LIHTC program and efforts to expand the supply of affordable housing to slow the rise in rents and help millions of the most cost-burdened working families and individuals who spend at least half of their income on housing alone. LIHTC has proven its effectiveness, and Congress should act to modernize and expand it and address our nation's serious affordable housing needs.
I led the first meeting of the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness in 1984. I also practiced as a fair housing attorney for 18 years and witnessed first-hand the devastating effects of homelessness. The availability of a safe, affordable home is part of the American dream, and we should be working to see that dream become a reality for all Americans.
Thank you again for contacting me.