Congressman Recommends Strategies to Address Affordable Housing Crisis
Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) recently released a housing report entitled, “Locked Out: Reversing Federal Housing Failures and Unlocking Opportunity.” It calls on the federal government to “reassert its partnership to become a constructive force for equity, accessibility, and opportunity in solving the housing crisis.”
Describing the current state of the housing crisis, “Locked Out” cites the most recent Homelessness Assessment Report from HUD, which estimated more than 552,000 people experienced homelessness in the United States in 2018. The report states “nearly half of renters are paying more than 30% of their income in rent. The United States has a shortage of seven million rental homes available to extremely low-income renters and there isn’t a single state that has an adequate supply of affordable rental homes.”
The report offers strategies the federal government could pursue to address the nation’s housing affordability challenges including expanding the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, making HUD’s Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers an entitlement program to cover everyone eligible, creating a renter’s tax credit to support low-income households, and providing federal incentives for communities to end exclusionary zoning.
According to the report, the LIHTC program has been the single most-effective method of constructing affordable housing since the federal government shifted from construction to rental assistance. As of 2018, more 3.13 million homes have been financed using LIHTC. The LIHTC program is capped at $7 billion annually, limiting the number of affordable homes. It recommends that Congress double the national credit cap, stabilize the value of the 4 percent new construction credit, and expand the value of credits available to projects serving extremely low-income populations.