WASHINGTON, D.C.– National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) President and CEO Sheila Crowley testified today before the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance of the House Financial Services Committee at a hearing titled, “The Future of Housing in America: Increasing Private Sector Participation in Affordable Housing.”
In her oral testimony, Dr. Crowley described the severity of the affordable housing shortage in America. She stated that nationally there are 10.3 million extremely low income renter households, but only 3.2 million rental homes that are available and affordable to them. As a consequence, stated Dr. Crowley, “Today, 75% of extremely low income renter households spend more than half of their income for their homes, and are one financial emergency away from not being able to pay the rent.”
Agreeing with the other witnesses, Dr. Crowley said the private, for-profit sector has an important role to play in addressing affordable housing problems, but only in the context of public-private partnerships. “Without a public commitment to affordable housing, there is no motivation for private investment. The data on the housing shortage and the years long waiting lists for federal housing assistance are evidence that there is a market for rental housing that extremely low income families can afford. If there were a profit to be made in building and operating this housing, someone would have done so by now,” she said.
Dr. Crowley told the committee that “it is possible to end homelessness and the shortage of affordable rental housing in our country without costing the federal government one additional dollar.” She cited Congressman Keith Ellison’s “Common Sense Housing Investment Act” that would make “two modest changes to the mortgage interest deduction would make the tax treatment of home ownership fairer and generate billions of dollars in revenue.” The changes, phased-in over five years, would produce $230 billion in additional revenue in ten years that could be used to fund affordable rental housing programs, including the National Housing Trust Fund. Dr. Crowley noted that NHTF was designed to be used flexibility with other private and public sector investments to increase the supply of affordable housing for the poorest households.
Subcommittee Chairman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) asked all the witnesses to send the Committee suggestions on how to make existing housing programs more flexible and how to help more people with current resources.
Dr. Crowley’s full testimony is available at http://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/Testimony_041615.pdf.
Established in 1974 by Cushing N. Dolbeare, the National Low income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that assures people with the lowest income in the United States have affordable and decent homes