Statement from Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, on NLIHC's opposition to the Middle Income Housing Tax Credit Act of 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) welcomes an elevated discussion and proposed solutions to the country's affordable housing crisis. Together with our members, partners and allies across the country, we work towards ensuring the lowest income families have decent, safe and affordable homes. While we are pleased to have Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) prioritizing solutions to the affordable housing crisis, his proposed Middle Income Housing Tax Credit (MIHTC) program would be a misguided and wasteful use of federal resources. 

Senator Wyden proposes to create a new federal tax incentive to encourage the development of housing affordable to households earning the Area Median Income (AMI). Sixty percent of the units would be targeted to households earning median income, while the remaining forty percent of units would have no income targeting at all. 

Diane Yentel, NLIHC President and CEO, explains, “Given the growing affordable housing crisis, bold action is needed to serve more families in need. New federal resources must be targeted to serve those with the clearest and greatest needs—families with extremely low incomes. If enacted, Senator Wyden's bill would divert much-needed resources to higher-income households who, the data show, do not face significant housing challenges. Just 2% of middle-income renters nationwide are severely cost burdened, compared with 75% of the poorest renters paying more than half their income towards their rent.”

According to NLIHC’s report, The Gap: The Affordable Housing Gap Analysis 2016, the greatest need for affordable housing is primarily concentrated among extremely low-income renters who earn no more than 30% of AMI. America’s 10.4 million extremely low-income renter households face a shortage of 7.2 million affordable and available apartments. In fact, for every 100 extremely low-income renter households, there are just 31 affordable and available rental homes. These households include seniors, people with disabilities and families with children who struggle to keep a roof over their heads.

Because of this shortage, 75% of extremely low-income households are severely cost burdened, paying more than half of their income towards their rent each month. They face difficult decisions between paying rent and buying food or seeing a doctor and, in the worst cases, become homeless.

In comparison, just 2% of median-income households are severely cost burdened nationwide and there is an excess of homes affordable and available to them. For every 100 median-income households, there are 104 homes affordable and available. Rental housing is most often developed for median and upper income households, without a need for federal tax incentives. 

Diane Yentel stated, “There is no sound rationale for investing billions of dollars of scarce federal resources targeted toward the development of housing for higher-income households, when the evidence makes overwhelmingly clear that the need for affordable housing is primarily concentrated among the lowest income families.”

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.

National Low Income Housing Coalition 1000 Vermont Avenue, NW, Suite 500, Washington DC 20005 202/662-1530; Fax 202/393-1973; [email protected]