NLIHC is celebrating our 50th anniversary in 2024. Since being founded by Cushing Dolbeare in 1974, NLIHC has educated, organized, and advocated to ensure that people with the lowest incomes have access to decent, affordable housing. Throughout 2024, we are recognizing our 50th anniversary by looking back on our history and collective achievements, while also renewing our commitment to achieving housing justice. This timeline presents a history of our organization and our impact on federal low-income housing policy.

  • 1970


    Cushing Dolbeare convenes Ad Hoc Low Income Housing Coalition.

      President Gerald Ford signs “Housing and Community Development Act of 1974,” creating Section 8 and CDBG.


    Low Income Housing Information Service (LIHIS) incorporated and gains 501(c)(3) status. 

    Decade and a half of production of over 1 million Section 8 project-based units begins.


    Cushing appointed executive secretary and Tony Henry elected chair of LIHIS.


    Cushing and Louis Dolbeare move from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., and run LIHIS and later NLIHC out of their garage.


    Ad Hoc Low Income Housing Coalition incorporated as National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) and gains 501 (c)(4) status.


    Cushing appointed first president and Andy Mott elected first chair of NLIHC.

  • 1980


    Sen. Edward W. Brooke named honorary chair of NLIHC.


    NLIHC holds first conference and first Capitol Hill Day in D.C. for housing advocates from across the country.


    Ronald Reagan becomes president, resulting in drastic cuts to low-income housing and other social programs.


    NLIHC establishes Housing Leadership Award honoring Sen. Brooke and holds first Leadership Reception.


    Shirley Wise elected chair of LIHIS.


    Rafael Torres elected chair of LIHIS.


    LIHIS receives first funding gift from Ford Foundation.


    Barry Zigas becomes president of NLIHC and executive secretary of LIHIS.
      Preddy Ray elected chair of LIHIS and Cushing elected chair of NLIHC.
      LIHIS/NLIHC moved out of Cushing’s garage to office on 14th St., NW.


    Low-Income Housing Tax Credit enacted; select states produce Qualified Allocation Plans (QAP).


    “McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act” enacted.


    “Fair Housing Act” amended to include people with disabilities and families with children as protected classes.


    Housing NOW! March held in Washington, D.C.


    Why Everyday People Can’t Find Affordable Housing – forerunner to Out of Reach – published by LIHIS.


    The Widening Gap – forerunner to The Gap report – authored by Cushing and published by LIHIS.


    Belinda Mayo elected chair of LIHIS.

  • 1990


    “Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act” enacted, creating HOME Investment Partnership Program and requiring Comprehensive Housing Assistance Strategies (CHAS). 

    “Low-Income Housing Preservation and Resident Homeownership Act” (LIHPRA) enacted.


    At a Snail’s Pace: A Source Book on the Proposed 1991 Federal Housing Budget and How It Compares to Prior Years published by LIHIS.


    LIHIS launches National Housing Policy Initiative to create state housing coalitions.


    Lydia Tom elected chair of LIHIS.


    Barry Zigas resigns. Cushing becomes acting NLIHC president/LIHIS executive secretary.

    Karen Hill elected NLIHC chair.


    Bob Adams becomes NLIHC president/LIHIS executive secretary.


    Harriet Macklin elected chair of LIHIS.


    “Federal Housing Trust Fund Act,” introduced in the House, calls for funding via reforms to Mortgage Interest Deduction.


    Republican majority takes office in House and Senate, creating major threat to HUD and low-income housing programs.


    Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding launched to protect and increase HUD funding.


    NY Times Magazine publishes “The Year That Housing Died” about HUD appropriations not including a single new voucher.


    NLIHC and LIHIS merge as 501(c)(3). Karen Hill elected chair. National Low Income Housing Policy Center created as 501(c)(4).


    Helen Dunlap becomes president of NLIHC.


    First volume of Memo to Members published.


    First edition of Out of Reach published.


    First edition of Advocates’ Guide to Housing and Community Development Policy published.


    “Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998” enacted.


    Bill Faith becomes acting president of NLIHC.


    Rafeal Torres elected chair of NLIHC.


    Sheila Crowley becomes president of NLIHC.


    HUD appropriations bill adds 60,000 new incremental vouchers and numerous preservation provisions sought by advocates for Section 8 project-based housing in major victory.


    Out of Reach expanded to include non-metro areas, covering every U.S. jurisdiction for first time.

  • 2000


    Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) introduces “National Affordable Housing Trust Fund Act,” with FHA excess revenue as source of funding.


    NLIHC launches campaign to establish National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF).


    Bill Faith elected chair of NLIHC.


    HUD contracts with NLIHC to undertake training on QHWRA with 4,000 tenant leaders.


    Sen. Kerry reintroduces NHTF bill; Rep. Bernie Sanders introduces companion bill in House.


    NLIHC publishes Report on State Funded Rental Assistance: A Patchwork of Small Measures.


    NLIHC publishes Scarcity and Success: Perspectives on Assisted Housing, a report on voucher use.


    President George Bush and Republican House and Senate take office; HUD programs threatened again.


    NLIHC celebrates Cushing’s 50th year as a low-income housing advocate.


    Cushing receives Heinz Award for the Human Condition and donates the $250,000 prize to establish the Cushing Dolbeare Endowment. NLIHC raises $1,500,000 to match Cushing’s gift.


    NHTF campaign closes 107th Congress with 3,300 endorsers, 200 co-sponsors of House bill, and 29 cosponsors of Senate bill.


    NLIHC launches Voter Registration, Education, Mobilization (VREM) program, later dubbed Voterization.


    NHTF bills reintroduced in House (with 162 original co-sponsors) and Senate (with 16 original co-sponsors).


    More than 550 NLIHC member organizations take part in VREM campaign, registering over 84,000 new voters.


    NHTF campaign closes 108th Congress with 5,000 endorsers, 214 co-sponsors of House bill, and 28 co-sponsors of Senate bill.


    Cushing Niles Dolbeare dies at age 78.


    NLIHC holds Voucher Summit.


    Hurricane Katrina hits Gulf Coast, destroying or damaging much low-income housing. NLIHC enters disaster housing policy arena, forming Katrina Housing Group (KHG).


    KHG influences content for two major pieces of disaster-recovery-related legislation and sees key provisions through to enactment, including tens of billions of dollars for Gulf Coast rebuilding and creation of National Disaster Housing Strategy as part of “Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act.”


    NLIHC initiates RegWatch as part of Preservation Initiative.


    Bill establishing NHTF using funds from assessment on GSEs passes House.


    George Moses elected chair of NLIHC.

      NLIHC issues report from Voucher Summit.

    “Section 8 Voucher Reform Act of 2006” (SEVRA) introduced in House, with many provisions reflecting recommendations from Voucher Summit report.


    NHTF campaign closes 109th Congress with 5,617 endorsers.


    Democrats take majority of seats in House and Senate. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) becomes chair of House Financial Services Committee.


    “National Affordable Housing Trust Fund Act of 2007,” introduced by Chair Frank, passes House by bipartisan vote of 264-148.


    H.R. 1427, a bill making regulatory reforms to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and containing dedicated source of revenue for National Housing Trust Fund, passes House.


    “Gulf Coast Housing Recovery Act of 2007” passes House; companion bill introduced in Senate.


    SEVRA passes House by vote of 333-83.


    NLIHC gives first Media Awards.


    NHTF enacted as part of “Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008” (HERA) with assessment on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (FMFM) as dedicated source of funding.


    Foreclosure crisis causes banking collapse in September. Onset of Great Recession. FMFM taken into conservatorship; obligation to make annual transfer of funds to NHTF suspended.


    President Barack Obama takes office.


    NLIHC finds 40% of people evicted due to foreclosure are renters.


    “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009” enacted, with $1.5 billion for emergency rent assistance, leading to creation of HUD Rapid Rehousing Program.


    “Protecting Tenants in Foreclosure Act (PTFA) of 2009” enacted, providing first federal tenant protections in private housing market (with sunset clause added at last minute).


    Anonymous donor gives NLIHC $5 million for second endowment.

  • 2010


    NHTF campaign secures signatures of over 2,200 organizations, representing all 435 congressional districts, on letter to Congress urging funding for NHTF that is published as full-page ad in Roll Call.


    NLIHC launches Tenant Talk.


    Presentation of NLIHC’s first state and local organizing awards.


    NLIHC names Housing Leadership Award after Sen. Edward Brooke and establishes Cushing N. Dolbeare Lifetime Service Award.



    Tea Party Republicans take control of House, threatening HUD programs once again.


    Attempts by new members of Congress to abolish NHTF are defeated.


    NLIHC publishes Scarcity and Success: Perspectives on Assisted Housing, a report on voucher use.


    NLIHC introduces proposal to reform Mortgage Interest Deduction and use savings to fund NHTF.



    Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) introduces “Common Sense Housing Investment Act” to replace MID with 15% flat rate tax credit on interest paid on mortgages up to $500,000 and direct savings to NHTF and other low-income housing programs.


    NLIHC and Public and Affordable Housing Research Corporation launch National Housing Preservation Database.


    NLIHC publishes Affordable Housing Dilemma: The Preservation vs. Mobility Debate.



    Mark Allison elected chair of NLIHC.



    Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) reintroduces “Common Sense Housing Investment Act.”



    NLIHC launches United for Homes Campaign to reform MID and fund NHTF and gathers 1,434 endorsers of campaign by year’s end.


    NLIHC sues director of Federal Housing Finance Agency for failure to fund NHTF.



    First NHTF funding is approved after new FHFA Director Mel Watt lifts suspension of requirement that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac make annual contribution.


    NLIHC celebrates 40th anniversary in 2014 and establishes Leadership Council, composed of all past board chairs and CEOs.


    NLIHC reactivates its 501(c)(4), the National Low Income Housing Policy Center.


    NLIHC publishes 25th anniversary edition of Out of Reach.


    NLIHC releases Alignment Project: Aligning Federal Low Income Federal Housing Programs with Housing Need, analyzing impacts of existing federal low-income housing programs on extremely low-income (ELI) households.


    United for Homes campaign achieves endorsements in all 435 congressional districts.



    “Protecting Tenants in Foreclosure Act” expires.


    Brenda Clement elected chair of NLIHC.



    Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) reintroduces MID reform bill as “Common Sense Housing Investment Act of 2015.”


    NLIHC publishes A Rare Occurrence, showing just 5% of mortgages are over $500,000.



    NLIHC and CHCDF form larger coalition of advocates for Non-Defense Discretionary (NDD) to lift caps on appropriations and restore funding for domestic programs.


    Out of Reach expanded to include interactive website.


    Sen. Edward W. Brooke dies at age 95.



    First NHTF funds distributed to states; NLIHC educates states on how to influence NHTF plan.


    United for Homes campaign ends year with over 2,300 endorsers.



    Sheila Crowley retires.


    Diane Yentel becomes president and CEO of NLIHC.



    NLIHC launches new annual Our Homes, Our Voices National Housing Week of Action, with campaign later featured in exhibit on evictions at National Building Museum.


    NLIHC convenes Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC) in response to multiple devastating hurricanes and fires.


    President Donald Trump takes office, putting NLIHC once again at forefront of efforts to defeat harmful proposals to cut funding and reduce benefits.


    NLIHC and partners push Congress to provide unprecedented 10% increase in funding for HUD programs.


    Greg Payne elected chair of NLIHC.



    NLIHC establishes Sheila Crowley Housing Justice Award.


    NLIHC, with National Alliance to End Homelessness, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and Children’s HealthWatch, launches Opportunity Starts at Home (OSAH) multi-sector affordable homes campaign to meet rental housing needs of nation’s lowest-income people. OSAH steering committee includes national leaders from health care, education, anti-hunger, anti-poverty, local government, and other sectors.


    “Protecting Tenants in Foreclosure Act” made permanent.



    NLIHC rebrands and expands “Voterization” as Our Homes, Our Votes (OHOV) 2020, a nonpartisan voter and candidate initiative to build the capacity of nonprofit organizations to register, educate, and mobilize more low-income renters and allies to be involved in voting.


    NLIHC holds disaster housing recovery convening in Houston, publishing two comprehensive reports on disaster housing reform following the convening.


    For the first time in televised debate history, the moderators of a presidential debate ask candidates for their solutions to the nation’s housing affordability crisis.

  • 2020


    Every major presidential candidate releases comprehensive housing plan, with most centering the housing needs of the lowest-income people by proposing major investments in the national Housing Trust Fund, rental assistance, homeless assistance grants, and fair housing.


    Moderators of another presidential debate ask candidates for their solutions to nation’s housing affordability crisis.


    COVID-19 pandemic begins. NLIHC mobilizes to provide $3.5 million in foundation grants to 53 state and local homeless and housing service providers and other allies in 27 states to address impacts of crisis on lowest-income people and those experiencing homelessness.


    NLIHC hosts weekly COVID-19 and Housing national calls, sharing information on how federal, state, and local governments and nonprofits are responding to pandemic, how crisis is impacting people experiencing homelessness and low-income households, and how to achieve necessary solutions.


    NLIHC hosts weekly “Tenant Talk Live” calls.


    NLIHC and partners secure $12 billion in the “CARES Act of 2020” for HUD programs, including $4 billion for homelessness response, as well as limited eviction moratorium.


    NLIHC begins tracking and analyzing emergency rental assistance (ERA) programs created with funding from CARES Act. By end of year, NLIHC’s public database is tracking over 600 individual ERA programs throughout the country.


    NLIHC launches and leads Rent Relief Now campaign of over 2,300 organizational partners, calling for moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent during pandemic, along with tens of billions of dollars in ERA.


    Marla Newman elected chair of NLIHC.


    President Trump implements national eviction moratorium, with Congress extending it and providing $20 billion in ERA, resulting in the single largest set of protections and resources for low-income renters in the nation’s history.


    Congress passes “American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021” providing another $26.5 billion in ERA, along with essential funding for Emergency Housing Vouchers and other pandemic-related housing relief funds.


    NLIHC launches End Rental Arrears to Stop Evictions (ERASE) project, with major funding support from new foundations, to eliminate rental indebtedness caused by the pandemic and prevent evictions.


    NLIHC supports creation or implementation of over 200 vital state and local renter protections.


    NLIHC launches HoUSed campaign to advance long-term solutions for universal, stable, affordable homes and lead efforts to ensure that $150 billion in funding for affordable housing – three-quarters for households with the greatest needs – is included in House-passed “Build Back Better Act.”


    NLIHC launches IDEAS (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Anti-Racism, and Systems thinking) initiative to embed organization’s commitment to racial and social equity in all its internal and external work.


    NLIHC updates mission and vision statements to amplify commitment to racial equity.


    Building on decades-long commitment to tenant leadership, NLIHC creates Tenant Leader Cohort and holds first Tenant Leader retreat at the Resora in Albany, Georgia.


    NLIHC and tenant leaders participate in first-ever White House convening on tenants’ rights.


    Dora Leong Gallo elected chair of NLIHC Board of Directors.


    Many priorities of NLIHC and tenant leader partner are included in White House’s historic Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights.


    Having grown to include over 900 organizational partners, Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition achieves significant policy successes, including improvements to FEMA’s process for providing federal assistance and new support for programs to assist people who were homeless prior to a disaster in recovering afterward.


    NLIHC awarded $15 million unrestricted grant by Mackenzie Scott’s Yield Giving.


    NLIHC celebrates its 50th anniversary.