Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the “Decent, Affordable, Safe Housing for All (DASH) Act” in the U.S. Senate, promoting the bill during a Senate Committee on Finance hearing on March 8. While some provisions in the DASH Act would provide critically needed resources to help struggling households, NLIHC believes that other measures – such as a proposal to create a Middle-Income Housing Tax Credit (MIHTC) – are misguided and wasteful. Senator Wyden has introduced similar legislation in previous years (see Memo, 8/23/2021).
The DASH Act (S.680) includes several housing provisions that would help address America’s housing crisis. By fully funding rental assistance and investing robust resources in the national Housing Trust Fund, the bill would ensure that millions of households can afford their rent. The bill also includes an innovative proposal to create a new project-based renters’ tax credit that could be layered on to the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program to ensure that homes built with the tax credit are affordable to people living in poverty. Among other important reforms, the legislation would close loopholes in the LIHTC program that developers have exploited to convert federally assisted properties to market rate and prevent nonprofit organizations from preserving the properties as affordable.
NLIHC strongly opposes any efforts to create a tax credit for middle-income households, as there is no sound rationale for using scarce federal resources for this purpose. The DASH Act would create a new federal tax credit to incentivize developers to build and preserve market-rate apartments – housing that is affordable to families earning 100% or below of the area median income (AMI). Research shows, however, that middle-income families comprise less than 1% of those facing significant housing challenges, while 92.5% of these households have very low- or extremely low-incomes and would not be served by this new tax break for investors. At a time when there are more than four times as many homeless households as there are severely cost-burdened middle-income renter households, we must target federal funding to where it is most needed: making homes affordable for the lowest-income and most marginalized people.
To address the housing needs of middle-income households, Congress should instead incentivize or require state and local governments that receive federal transportation and infrastructure funding to eliminate restrictive zoning rules that increase the cost of development, limit housing supply for all renters, and reinforce segregation and structural racism in housing and other systems. Local communities can and must do their part in eliminating the exclusionary zoning policies that put pressure on middle-income renters in a handful of metro areas.
Read more about the DASH Act at: https://bit.ly/4234kTl
Read NLIHC’s Statement for the Record with more information on MIHTC at: https://bit.ly/3yvBbCE
See Diane Yentel’s Tweet thread on MIHTC at: https://bit.ly/3T7FptD