The latest framework for the Build Back Better Act includes a historic investment in affordable housing and community development.
The proposal calls for $150 billion for housing and community development, which would be “the single-largest and most comprehensive investment in affordable housing in history,” according to the White House.
The bill includes $25 billion in new rental assistance for hundreds of thousands of households; $65 billion to preserve the nation’s public housing infrastructure; and $15 billion for the National Housing Trust Fund (HTF) to build and preserve over 150,000 homes affordable to extremely low-income households, reports the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC).
“We are one step closer to achieving historic housing investments and keeping the country’s lowest-income people affordably housed, but we’re not done yet. We’re urging all members of Congress to enact this legislation as soon as possible” said NLIHC president and CEO Diane Yentel in a statement.
The continuing negotiations are also important for low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) advocates.
The $1.75 trillion package is trimmed down from $3.5 trillion, and it appears that provisions to expand the LIHTC program are not included, but supporters say they are still in the fight.
“Despite our disappointment in not having the LIHTC included in the initial version of Build Back Better as introduced by President Biden, we continue to work with our congressional champions including Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi, Leader (Chuck) Schumer, Sens. (Ron) Wyden and (Maria) Cantwell, and Reps. (Richard) Neal and (Suzan) DelBene to include it in the final package,” says David Gasson, partner at MG Housing Strategies. “It is inconceivable that a major piece of legislation intended to address both economic and social infrastructure would exclude the single most successful affordable housing production program. I am confident we will persevere in the end and thank everyone in our industry that has and continues to advocate for the LIHTC.”
As Congress and the White House worked to bring down the costs of the Build Back Better plan, there has been pressure to cut even broadly supported proposals like expanding the housing credit, says Emily Cadik, executive director of the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition.
“While Build Back Better does include a historic $150 billion for affordable housing programs, it is missing a critical component,” Cadik says. “Addressing our nation’s vast affordable housing supply shortage requires a significant investment in the housing credit. The Biden administration initially a proposed a $55 billion expansion of the housing credit as part of Build Back Better, and just weeks ago the House passed a set of housing credit proposals totaling $30 billion. But in the most recent agreement, housing credit proposals were completely left out. There is still time to make changes though, and the tax components of the bill in particular are still in flux. We have at least a few days to convince Congress and the White House to include housing credit provisions in the final bill, and every single day until the president signs it we need affordable housing advocates reaching out to their members of Congress in support of the housing credit.”
On the Senate floor Thursday, Cantwell (D-Wash.) called for the LIHTC measures to be included.
“This tax credit is bipartisan. It's worked successfully,” she said. “I would say it's one of the most successful programs that we've had in the United States for getting affordable housing. Let's not leave it off the table, let's put it in this legislation and make sure it gets to the goal line of the president's desk and is signed into law.”