Letter to the Editor: How to make housing more affordable

The following was published in The Washington Post on October 21, 2016.

You can view the original article here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/how-to-make-housing-more-affordable/2016/10/21/1ee134d0-9622-11e6-9cae-2a3574e296a6_story.html?utm_term=.9eb7a63325d1

Erika C. Poethig noted that while just 1 in 4 poor households receives federal rental assistance, all qualified homeowners filing an itemized tax return receive the mortgage interest deduction. 

We spend almost $200 billion a year to help families own or rent their homes. Three-quarters of that subsidizes higher-income homeowners who would be stably housed without the government’s help. The poorest renters face a severe shortage of affordable homes, leaving most to spend more than half of their incomes on rent. They face choices among rent, food, medicine and child care. Some become homeless. 

The United for Homes campaign calls for lowering the portion of a mortgage that can be used for tax relief and converting the deduction to a credit. The result: 15 million low-income homeowners eligible for a new tax benefit and tens of billions in savings that can be reinvested in homelessness and housing issues. With the political will to rebalance federal housing policy, we can end the housing crisis with no additional spending. 

Diane Yentel, Washington 

The writer is president and chief executive of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.