U.S. Senator Kamala Harris Reintroduces Housing Tax Candidate

Sen. Harris, Also a Democratic Presidential Candidate, Includes Housing Costs as Key Theme of Campaign

On April 9, 2019, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) reintroduced her proposed legislation, the “Rent Relief Act,” to provide new tax credits to help families afford housing. Senator Harris is also a Democratic presidential candidate.

The newly reintroduced legislation would establish refundable tax credits for households paying more than 30% of their income on rent and utilities.

“Housing is a human right, and we must act now to end the affordable housing crisis and provide relief to working families who are worried about making each month’s rent,” Harris said in a statement.

This newly reintroduced version of the legislation is different to the original legislation introduced in July 2018. This new bill provides a way for the U.S. Treasury Department to pay out the tax credit, which is refundable, on a monthly basis to households that qualify for eligibility.

The available tax credit gradually decreases as the household’s income increases. The tax credit depends on the rent paid being in line with the average cost of housing in the renter households’ neighborhood.

Diane Yentel, the president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said making the credit available monthly would “ensure that the lowest income people get the assistance they need in time to make rent” and help people with the lowest incomes stay in their homes.

Last year, U.S. Cory Booker (D-NJ), also a Democratic presidential candidate, has also introduced legislation with similar language that would provide a refundable credit. Senator Booker’s bill, “Housing, Opportunity, Mobility, and Equity (HOME) Act of 2018,” uses adjusted gross income as a barometer for the refundable credit.

A fact sheet from the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) compares U.S. Senators Harris’ and Booker’s bills and lays out how the bills will help low-income housing families pay for housing costs. The bills will work to ensure that every family has access to basic securities and dignities.

These innovative tax credit proposals address the growing affordable housing crisis facing millions of the lowest income seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, and individuals.

The two separate bills would help bridge the widening gap between incomes and housing costs. The two bills create new tax credits to help renters who face impossible choices between paying rent and meeting their other basic needs, including putting groceries on the table and taking care of their health.

Other Democratic candidates have talked about the need for the federal government to get more involved in supporting affordable housing.

Click here for for reporting from RollCall.

Click here for a press release from U.S. Senator Harris.