: ‘We have kicked the can down the road long enough’: Experts, legislators plead for more housing tax credits to boost construction and address dwindling affordable supply

by | Mar 8, 2023 | Stock Market

Scarce housing supply for low- and middle-income Americans is driving housing costs beyond reach for many families. One way to address the problem, some argue, is tax incentives to boost housing construction. That was the source of discussion among legislators on the Democrat-led Senate Finance Committee Tuesday, with the committee’s chairman, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, describing the country’s existing low-income housing tax credit as “the most successful federal program for affordable housing that there is.” 

Through that tax program, developers of lower-rent properties often sell the credits to finance their projects, and proponents say it has fueled the construction or preservation of millions of apartments since its inception in 1986. To create more homes in a country that’s short approximately 3.8 million of them, Wyden said, such tax credits for investors willing to build low-income and middle-income properties should be enhanced via multiple housing bills: the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act, and the Decent Affordable and Safe Housing for All (DASH) Act, which Wyden reintroduced Tuesday.  “For a long time, you were pretty much breaking the rules as a Democrat if you said you had some supply-side ideas,” the Senate Democrat said in remarks before the committee. “I want everybody to know, I’m a supply-sider when it comes to housing. Colleagues, we have got to create more housing supply.” Steve Walker, the executive director of the Washington State Housing Finance Commission, said the lack of affordable housing in his state is pushing families in search of cheaper rents out of the increasingly expensive communities near their workplaces. Some of the families are even becoming homeless, he said.  The low-income housing tax credit enjoys broad support in Congress because it’s a “highly effective, proven tool,” he said, but a temporary increase to the cr …

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