Obama Announces Housing Finance Reform Goals, Expresses LIHTC Support
On Aug. 6, President Obama described his housing finance reform goals and principles in a speech in Phoenix, Ariz. In the speech, as well as in a fact sheet the White House released the same day, the president also called on Congress to take additional steps to help homeowners and communities hit hard by the housing crisis. Obama also expressed support for policies designed to preserve and build new affordable rental housing, including the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC).
The fact sheet pointed out that while homeownership is recovering, middle class and poor renters are facing unprecedented affordability burdens. Every two years, HUD has issued a report that measures the scale of critical housing problems facing un-assisted renters. Based on data from the 2011 American Housing Survey, these “Worst Case Housing Needs” grew to 8.5 million households, a 19 percent increase from the previous record high in 2009 (7.1 million households), and a staggering 43.5 percent increase since 2007. HUD’s report finds that housing needs cut across: all regions of the country; all racial and ethnic groups; cities, suburbs, and rural areas; and various household types including families with children, senior citizens, and persons with disabilities. To fight these challenges, the Obama administration:
- Urges Congress to pass a bipartisan budget that invests in decent rental housing and builds our transportation infrastructure.
- Supports incentives like the LIHTC and the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC), and calls on Congress to continue to fund these priorities.
- Created the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) and other tools to preserve affordable rental housing for families and seniors. Launched a year ago, RAD is already saving nearly 18,000 units of housing at no cost to taxpayers by generating nearly $800 million in private sector investment that will support about 10,000 local jobs. The administration will work with Congress and its partners in state and local government to expand these tools to more communities across the nation.
- Launched the Promise Zones initiative to partner with hard-hit, high-poverty communities to build affordable housing, create jobs, leverage private investment, increase economic activity, enrich educational opportunities, and improve public safety. HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods, a highly competitive grant program that attracts eight dollars of private and other funding for every federal dollar, is a key building block for Promise Zones, and is based on two decades of bipartisan innovation that has developed nearly 100,000 units of mixed-income housing in 260 communities.
- Announced Opening Doors, the first-ever federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness. Marshaling 19 federal agencies in partnership with state and local community partners, the plan makes an historic commitment to ending veteran and chronic homelessness by 2015, ending homelessness for families, youth, and children by 2020, and setting a path to eradicate all types of homelessness in the United States. Despite encouraging significant progress in lowering veteran and chronic homelessness since the president took office, for the plan to succeed, Congress must increase smart, proven investments in rental housing that not only get our citizens off the streets, but save taxpayer dollars currently spent on emergency health services and institutional care.