For Immediate Release: Friday, October 8, 2021
Leading housing advocates call for Build Back Better investment in affordable housing
As Congress and the White House continue to negotiate infrastructure package, advocates note once-in-a-lifetime investment opportunity
Sacramento, CA – Amid surging rent prices and a startling increase in the number of Californians experiencing homelessness, Housing California, the California Housing Partnership, and the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California urge Congress and President Biden to make bold investments in affordable and stable housing. Specifically, these leading affordable housing advocates call for Congress to pass the $327 billion package approved by the House Financial Services Committee and the Low-Income Tax Credit related provisions approved by the House Ways and Means Committee.
As adopted by the Financial Services Committee, the Build Back Better bill must include $90 billion to expand rental assistance to 1 million more households, $80 billion to preserve public housing for more than 2.5 million residents, and $37 billion for the national Housing Trust Fund to build, preserve and rehabilitate 330,000 apartments affordable to the lowest-income people.
“The House Financial Services Committee’ package level of investment makes unprecedented strides in fulfilling President Biden’s goal to make rental assistance available to all eligible households, and to invest in the preservation and production of homes affordable to those most in need,” noted Jack Avery, Policy Associate at Housing California. “Voters across America have given Congress and President Biden a once-in-a-generation opportunity to Build Back Better, and they must do so by ensuring that everyone has a safe and affordable home. Any spending cuts to the Build Back Better Act must not come at the expense of these proven solutions to America’s housing crisis.”
In California alone, 1.2 million low-income renter households are unable to access homes affordable to them, and 3 out of 4 extremely low-income Californians pay more than 50% of their income on rent. More than 160,000 Californians experience homelessness every night, a significant increase from 2019 and 2020 levels.
In addition, the Build Back Better Bill must catalyze shovel-ready affordable housing developments by advancing two key provisions of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (AHCIA), approved by the House Ways and Means Committee. First, the AHCIA makes a critical adjustment to the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program by lowering the “bond threshold test” from 50% to 25%. Lowering this threshold allows an affordable housing project to finance only 25% of its costs with tax-exempt bonds in order to qualify for non-competitive 4% LIHTC credits. Second, the AHCIA increases each state’s allocation of the competitive 9% LIHTC credits by 72%. Together, just these two provisions will create an additional 228,000 affordable homes in California over the next 10 years.
“The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit is the basic building block for financing all new affordable housing, and in California the oversubscription for credits is stalling hundreds of shovel-ready developments,” said Mark Stivers, Director of Advocacy for the California Housing Partnership. “Enacting the LIHTC provisions of the Ways and Means Committee bill is the single biggest thing Congress can do to increase the production of affordable homes in California, including for persons experiencing homelessness.”
“California and the nation are counting on our federal leaders to do the right thing and prioritize affordable housing solutions in the final reconciliation bill, so that all of our friends, family, and neighbors have a safe and stable place to call home. That’s why more than 600 Bay Area individuals and organizations signed a joint letter to House Speaker Pelosi, to express how critical these policies are for all our communities, and especially our most vulnerable communities,” added Amie Fishman, Executive Director of the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California (NPH). “This is especially important for those hit hardest economically by the pandemic and our BIPOC neighbors who are disproportionately impacted by unjust housing policies.”
These calls for investment echo those made by the HoUSed campaign, led by National Low Income Housing Coalition (www.nlihc.org/housed) and by the ACTION Campaign led by the ACTION Coalition (https://rentalhousingaction.org/).