The low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) has had many struggles throughout its existence, not just the one that is affecting the affordable housing industry today.
John T. McEvoy saw his share of ups and downs during his tenure as executive director of the National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) from 1989 until his retirement in 2001.
With McEvoy at the helm of the association, the LIHTC and bond programs won several extensions and then became permanent in 1993.
But it was in 1995 when McEvoy says he and NCSHA faced the toughest fight, which ended up being a two-year battle. House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Archer proposed to re-establish an expiration date for the tax credit and bond programs. Archer relied on an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) memo that was critical of the LIHTC program to support the proposed expiration; however, McEvoy convinced the IRS to retract the memo.
Archer then commissioned a study of the LIHTC program by the General Accounting Office (GAO), but McEvoy rallied to ensure that the state housing finance agencies were able to share their success stories. The final GAO report was favorable for the LIHTC program.
As for his greatest accomplishment, McEvoy says, “If I had to pick one, it would be getting the tax credit and bond [volume caps] increased and indexed to inflation in 2000. That was the thing that propelled the credit into modern times.”
During these battles and successes, the Omaha, Neb., native relied on his background in the private sector and the federal government. He had a long tenure as staff director of the Senate Budget Committee so he knew his way around Congress. And prior to working at NCSHA, he was lobbying for housing issues at Kutak Rock & Campbell, a Washington, D.C., law firm. He spent six years trying to save public fi- nance for housing bonds, and that's when he came to know the state agencies.
“John was tenacious, didn't give up easily, and was willing to take on the tough fight. He knew how to get things done in Congress. He was a terrific legislative strategist,” says Barbara Thompson, who took over as executive director in 2001 after working side by side with McEvoy as director of policy and government affairs.
James Logue, COO of Great Lakes Capital Fund, agrees. During McEvoy's tenure, Logue had been head of the Michigan and New Jersey housing finance agencies as well as a NCSHA officer and board member. “John knew the insides of Washington, how it worked, how to get the right people to the right place to make the right impact at the right time. He really was the right guy to be leading this effort at that time,” Logue says.
Today, McEvoy lives full-time in Arizona and is catching up on a lifetime of reading. Still focused on affordable housing, he serves on the board of directors of Community Development Trust, the nation's only private real estate investment trust with a public purpose.