Congressman Ellison and Author Matthew Desmond Discuss Mortgage Interest Deduction Reform

United For HomesRepresentative Keith Ellison (D-MN) and First Focus Campaign for Children hosted a briefing on July 19, where Matthew Desmond, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Evicted, and other experts discussed policy recommendations to support housing stability among children and families facing eviction. Panelists offered a broad range of solutions. Dr. Desmond and Mr. Ellison both pointed to mortgage interest deduction (MID) reform to redirect federal housing dollars from the highest earning households to families most in need of housing assistance. 

Millions of families cannot afford a decent place to call home. Dr. Desmond pointed out that only one in four families who needs housing assistance actually gets it and focused on those who do not receive assistance—and who are more likely to experience eviction as a consequence.  Dr. Desmond emphasized that evictions are both a condition and a cause of poverty: evictions push families already experiencing poverty and housing cost burdens deeper into poverty. He called for providing housing vouchers to all families living below the poverty line.

Dr. Desmond and Mr. Ellison noted that the majority of federal housing dollars go to subsidize housing for the wealthiest households through homeowner tax benefits. In February, Mr. Ellison introduced the “Common Sense Housing Investment Act of 2017” (H.R. 948) to address this imbalance in federal housing policy. The legislation would reform the MID - reducing the portion of a mortgage eligible for a tax break and converting the MID to a tax credit - and reinvest the savings into affordable rental housing solutions. Mr. Ellison’s bill mirrors the NLIHC-led United for Homes campaign.