Senate Finance Committee Holds Hearing on Affordable Housing
On August 1, 2017, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on “America’s Affordable Housing Crisis: Challenges and Solutions.”
In a bipartisan show of support for affordable housing, witnesses and members of the Committee from both sides of the aisle acknowledged the need to address the affordable housing crisis, and the discussion centered around the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) as our nation’s primary tool for increasing the supply of affordable rental housing.
The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (S. 548), introduced by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), featured prominently in the discussion, with several members on the committee expressing support for many of the bill’s provisions to strengthen the Housing Credit.
The committee is accepting statements for the record in response to the hearing, due August 15, and instructions can be found on the committee’s hearing webpage.
Enterprise’s Emily Cadik reported in an Enterprise blog post,
“In his opening statement, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), lead Republican sponsor of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, described the affordable housing crisis as “a problem that should be ready for a bipartisan solution,” and throughout the hearing expressed support for S. 548 as an important step to make a meaningful dent in the affordable housing crisis. “One reason I support the Housing Credit,” Chairman Hatch said, “is that it keeps decision-making away from D.C., and keeps it in communities while involving the private sector.” Hatch also outlined broader principles for tax reform, including fairness, efficiency, simplicity, and American competitiveness.”
“In her remarks, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), lead sponsor of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, highlighted the role of the Housing Credit in serving urban as well as rural communities, and responding to specific needs like veteran homelessness. She emphasized the growth in the number of cost-burdened renter households, citing projections from Enterprise and the Joint Center for Housing Studies that the number of renter households who pay more than half of their income towards rent could grow to nearly 15 million by 2025. Senator Cantwell also underscored the high costs of inaction on the health and criminal justice systems, among others.”
Cadik wrote of the prominent themes throughout the hearing:
- The affordable housing crisis affects every state and all types of communities.
- The Housing Credit is the primary tool to develop more affordable housing.
- Even successful programs can be made stronger.
- Private sector and state oversight are critical to the Housing Credit’s success.
- Adjustments to the Housing Credit will be needed in order to offset the impact of a lower corporate rate and other potential changes in tax reform.