Saving the Low Income Housing Tax Credit: Now is the Time
More than 325,000 lower income California households are currently living in apartments produced and made affordable through federal Low Income Housing TaxCredits (Housing Credits) authorized by Congress 30 years ago. More than 7 million Californians will directly benefit from these affordable apartments over the next 50 years thanks to these federal Housing Credits.
After years of talk, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives approved bills this week that authorize Congress to approve $1.5 trillion of tax cuts over the next 10 years in Tax Reform legislation with a simple majority vote. The House will release the first draft of the tax bill on Wednesday, November 1st and is expected to approve a final version before Thanksgiving. The Senate is expected to follow shortly thereafter with its own bill. In other words, there are only a few more days in which these bills can be changed before they are released.
While we expect that these bills will retain the 9% Housing Credit, which is a huge victory since it will be one of only two corporate tax credits to be retained out of dozens, it is possible that they will fail to specifically call out the need to preserve states’ ability to issue Tax Exempt private activity bonds and their linked authority to provide 4% Housing Credits.
This is important to California because our state is the largest beneficiary of the 4% Housing Credit in the country. In 2016, the state invested $2.2 billion worth of 4% Housing Credits to create more than 20,000 affordable rental homes. This is double the $1.1 billion of capped 9% Housing Credits that California invested in affordable rental homes in 2016.
At a time when our state has a deficit of more than 1.5 million affordable rental homes, we cannot afford to lose the single largest program helping us to address this deficit. Luckily, there is something Californians who care about this can do: contact our members of Congress who have the ability to influence the final form of these tax bills.
Only a few members of Congress are in the position to help, namely those to whom Senate Finance Chair Orin Hatch (R-Utah) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) will listen most. California’s Senator Feinstein has already registered her support for the LIHTC with Chairman Hatch. But a number of our Representatives in the House have not yet weighed in and need to hear from us. Below is a list of their names and the emails of the lead staff person handling the tax bill for them.
The best way to let these Representatives know you care is to email and call them via the Capitol Switchboard (202-224-3121) with the following message:
“The federal 4% Housing Credit is creating more than 20,000 affordable homes in California annually and is far and away the most important tool we have to address our affordable housing crisis. Please co-sponsor the Tiberi-Neal Bill (HR 1661) and contact Chairman Brady ASAP and ask him to include the Tiberi-Neal bill provisions (HR 1661) in the Tax Reform Bill as a top priority for your office.”
This message will be given more weight if it comes from someone in the Representative’s district or with properties in the district. So, please think of anyone you know who lives and works in these districts and forward this request to them.
To maximize the effectiveness of your emails, I suggest you download the fact sheet documenting the benefits that the Housing Credit has delivered to each Representative’s district by clicking here and selecting their names individually.
Please join me in taking 30 minutes to make this a priority today. Together, we can do this.