Federal Housing Resources Should Address Critical Needs of Extremely Low Income Renters
U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has introduced a bill (S. 3365) to create a Middle Income Housing Tax Credit (MIHTC) for properties where at least 60% of homes are occupied by households with incomes at or below 100% of area median incomes (AMI).
While the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) welcomes proposed solutions to the nation’s affordable rental housing crisis, Senator Wyden’s plan would be a misguided and wasteful use of federal resources.
- Federal resources are better spent addressing the critical housing needs of extremely low income renters, who are most severely impacted by the lack of affordable housing, instead of middle income renters who represent less than 1% of all severely housing cost-burdened households.
- For every 100 median-income households nationwide, there are 101 affordable and available rental homes; for every 100 extremely low income households, there are just 35 affordable and available rental homes.
Senator Wyden’s MIHTC legislation would create a 15-year tax credit for 50% of qualifying costs, or a minimum 5% per year, and would allocate $1 per capita in 2019 – $1.05 per capita for rural areas – with a $1.14 million minimum for small states. Senator Wyden introduced similar legislation in 2016.
“There is no sound rationale for investing billions of dollars of scarce federal resources targeted toward the development of market-rate housing, when changes to local zoning laws would have largely the same impact,” stated NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel in an NLIHC press release on the MIHTC legislation. “At a time when there are more than twice as many children living in homeless shelters as there are severely cost-burdened middle income renter households, we must target federal funding to where it is most needed: making homes affordable for the lowest income people. Local communities can and must do their part in eliminating the exclusionary zoning policies that put pressure on middle income renters in a handful of metro areas.”
Key messages about the proposed Middle Income Housing Tax Credit include:
- The affordable housing crisis primarily impacts families with the lowest incomes, not middle income households.
- The severe shortage of affordable rental homes for the lowest income families contributes to rent pressure on middle income households.
- There are better, alternative ways to address the housing challenges faced by middle-income households in high-cost cities.