Representative Joe Crowley (D-NY) announced on August 21 that he will introduce legislation, the “Rent Relief Act of 2017,” to provide a renters’ tax credit to struggling families and individuals to help them afford to keep a roof over their heads. Mr. Crowley, chair of the House Democratic Caucus, serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, which is tasked with drafting tax reform legislation.
If enacted, the bill would create a new, refundable tax credit to put more money in the pockets of the lowest income families at a time when renters’ wages have flat-lined and housing costs have skyrocketed. Under Mr. Crowley’s bill, renters who pay more than 30% of their income on rent would be eligible for a refundable tax credit, based on the household’s annual income and the total amount it spends annually on rent, capped at 150% of HUD’s Fair Market Rent. Individuals who live in federally subsidized housing would also be able to claim a refundable tax credit for one month’s rent.
“Millions of families – including those with the greatest needs – would no longer be forced to make impossible choices between paying for rent and covering other basic needs like food and healthcare,” stated NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel in a press announcement supporting the bill. “By ensuring that the lowest income people have an affordable place to call home, a new tax credit for renters – like the one proposed by Representative Crowley – could transform millions of lives, giving struggling families the stability they need to achieve economic mobility, improve their health, and allow children to do better in school. I applaud Congressman Crowley for his leadership on this innovative, bold proposal.”
NLIHC member and New York Housing Conference Executive Director Rachel Fee spoke at Mr. Crowley’s press conference. “Too many families in New York City are struggling to afford rent each month,” she said. “As rents continue to outpace income, we need federal policy to support affordable rental housing, especially for low-income families. Congressman Crowley's bill will provide this needed relief to renters in New York and across the country."