Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) have teamed to reintroduce a bipartisan bill that would allow full-time students who have recently experienced homelessness to be eligible for low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) apartments.

The bill addresses the long-standing “student rule” in the LIHTC program. The intent of the rule is to prohibit LIHTC funds from being used to construct dormitories and to prevent college students, who often have temporarily low incomes, from utilizing resources meant for individuals and families with more serious and longer-term housing needs. However, the student rule provides no exception for homeless and recently homeless youth or veterans. Because of this, students may lose access to LIHTC housing if they go to school full-time. Alternatively, if they choose to attend school part-time in order to keep their LIHTC housing eligibility, these students may lose access to grants, loans, and scholarships that are limited to full-time students.

Sen. Al Franken

“The introduction of this bill utilizing the LIHTC shows the recognition by Congress of the valuable tool the credit has become—and its ability to serve various housing needs,” says Bob Moss, principal and national director of governmental affairs at CohnReznick, calling the LIHTC program “an expenditure in the (tax) code that performs.”

The legislation is co-sponsored by Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Angus King (I-Maine).

"Right now, too many Minnesotan students can't focus on their education because they don't know where they are going to sleep at night," said Franken in a statement. "Young people and veterans should not be forced to choose between housing or pursuing their education. Our bipartisan bill will fix this problem by closing a loophole and giving students access to affordable housing."

Portman added: "Students shouldn't have to choose between stable housing and going to school full-time. By giving low-income students access to affordable housing while they attend school, we can help to ensure that they are able to graduate and succeed."

Franken and Portman previously introduced the bill last year.