In a "Dear Colleague" letter circulated on May 19, Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) encouraged his colleagues to read the New York Times Magazine story by Pulitzer-prize winning author and researcher Matt Desmond, "How Homeownership Became the Engine of American Inequality." The Desmond piece explores how the mortgage interest deduction (MID) disproportionately benefits higher income homeowners while lower income homeowners get little benefit and most of the lowest income renters get no help at all for their housing. Mr. Ellison urges colleagues to sign onto his “Common Sense Housing Investment Act” (H.R. 948), which addresses the imbalance in federal housing policy by replacing the MID with a 15% tax credit to provide a financial benefit to more homeowners and save billions that could be reinvested in affordable housing solutions for those with the greatest needs.
Mr. Ellison also cites a U.S. News & World Report opinion piece, “A Home for Housing Reform,” by former Obama Senior Policy Advisor Michael Stegman and former Bush administration Assistant Secretary for Policy and Research at HUD Dennis Shea, which calls for MID reforms that align with H.R. 948 and the NLIHC-led United for Homes campaign.
“Conservatives and progressives alike agree that our nation’s housing policy is in critical need of revision,” said Mr. Ellison. “Replacing the MID with a flat-rate tax credit and investing the savings in programs to support low-income families, people with disabilities and the elderly is one of the best ways by which we can address the crisis of housing insecurity currently affecting millions of Americans.”