Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) announced on August 18 the “Decent, Affordable, Safe Housing for All (DASH) Act,” a bill that includes several proposed solutions to the nation’s affordable rental housing crisis. While some provisions in the DASH Act provide critically needed resources to help struggling households, other measures – such as a proposal to create a Middle-Income Housing Tax Credit (MIHTC) – are misguided and wasteful. Senator Wyden introduced similar legislation to create a Middle-Income Housing Tax Credit in 2016 and 2018 (see Memo, 9/26/16, 8/27/18).
The DASH Act 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 onto 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.
Senator Wyden’s proposal for a Middle-Income Housing Tax Credit, however, is a misguided and wasteful use of federal resources. 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% of the Area Median Income (AMI) or below. Research shows, however, that middle-income families comprise less than one percent of those face 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.
“There is no sound rationale for investing billions of dollars of scarce federal resources targeted toward the development of market-rate housing, when changes to local zoning laws would have largely the same impact,” stated NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. “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. 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 the bill text at: https://tinyurl.com/73nnmm56
A summary of the bill is available at: https://tinyurl.com/2zmarn36
Read NLIHC’s Diane Yentel’s tweet thread on the DASH Act at: https://tinyurl.com/4sv4bkjn