Cantwell, DelBene, Bipartisan Colleagues Introduce New Legislation to Combat Affordable Housing Crisis
As Washington state and the country continue to grapple with an affordable housing and homelessness crisis, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and U.S. Representative Suzan DelBene (WA-01) today introduced legislation to increase investment in affordable housing and provide more resources and stronger protections for at-risk groups.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re in Spokane or Walla Walla, whether you’re in Yakima or Vancouver, we have a housing crisis in the state of Washington,” said Senator Cantwell in a speech on the Senate floor today. “We know that this challenge of moving forward on affordable housing is something that is a bipartisan issue. The tax credit has had bipartisan support for many years in the United States Congress. We just need to put the petal to the metal and provide more of the tax credit so we can get more affordable housing built in the United States of America.”
“Since 1986, housing credits have financed over three million affordable rental-housing units for roughly 7.4 million hardworking families, seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities. But in many parts of Washington state and across the country, people are struggling to put a roof over their heads,” said Congresswoman Suzan DelBene. “The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act will help lift families out of dire situations and give them a chance to enter the middle class and not look back. I’m honored to team up with Senator Cantwell on this legislation and will work hard to get this bill passed so we can ensure every American has a safe, affordable place to call home.”
The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2019 would expand and strengthen the Affordable Housing Tax Credit (also known as the Low Income Housing Tax Credit) to produce more units of affordable housing and better serve a number of at-risk and underserved communities.
Overall, the Cantwell-DelBene bill would help build more than 9,700 new affordable housing units in Washington over ten years, in addition to the hundreds of units built each year through the program. The bill will also provide more than 11,000 jobs and add over $1 billion to the Washington economy in wages and business income.
In recent years, Washington state has experienced a severe housing affordability crisis. Between 2006 and 2015, the median income in the state increased three percent, but the median rent increased by 18%. More than 450,000 households – or nearly 17% of all households in the state – spend more than 30% of their monthly income on rent, and nearly 220,000 of these households pay more than half of their monthly income. These statistics are even more drastic among extremely low-income renters in the state – 71% pay more half or more of their monthly income on rent.
“The Affordable Housing Credit is our state’s most valuable resource for creating and sustaining affordable apartments,” said Kim Herman, executive director of the Washington State Housing Finance Commission, which allocates the credit to developers. “It works in every kind of community and for every kind of household, from seniors to the homeless to working families. We are so proud that our Washington state members of Congress are leading the way to expand and enhance this critical program.”
Across the United States, the expanded Affordable Housing Tax Credit would produce roughly 1.9 million new affordable housing units over the next decade, an increase of more than 550,000 units more than would be built without the legislation. The bill increases the total number of affordable housing units built by:
In addition to expanding the number of affordable homes built in the United States, the legislation makes a number of key reforms to strengthen the Affordable Housing Tax Credit. These reforms will:
Since its creation 30 years ago, the Affordable Housing Tax Credit has built or rehabilitated more than 3.2 affordable housing units, leveraging more than $190 billion in private investment to do so. During that time, the credit has been responsible for nearly 90 percent of all federally-funded affordable housing. Between 1986-2013, more than 13.3 million people lived in homes financed by the Affordable Housing Tax Credit.