- A bipartisan group of 48 mayors penned a letter urging Congress to include affordable housing legislation, the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2019, in any tax package Congress takes on before year's end. The measure would expand the Affordable Housing Tax Credit, also called the Low Income Housing Tax Credit.
- The mayors' letter says the legislation would create 510,000 jobs, $19.1 billion in additional tax revenue and "would have a critical impact in addressing our rental housing shortages and increasing access to affordable housing."
- The legislation would spur the creation of an additional 550,000 housing units above what would otherwise be created, according to Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-WA, who introduced the legislation. Mayors from cities of all sizes signed the letter, including those from Akron, OH; Boston; Chicago; Dallas; Everett, WA; Los Angeles; Louisville, KY; Madison, WI; Mesa, AZ; New York City; Richmond, VA; Seattle; and Winooski, VT.
The mayors' letter says that the Housing Credit so far has financed the development or preservation of 3.2 million affordable homes nationwide. The Housing Credit's design of being administered at the state level allows it to benefit citizens in urban, suburban and rural areas. That element is reflected in the support from such a wide variety of community leaders across the country.
Cantwell contends that the provisions included in the bill will better serve the most at-risk and underserved populations. It increases the number of credits for housing developments that cater to extremely low-income individuals, those with special needs and Native Americans. It would also strengthen veteran-specific housing options.
Many cities have taken action to increase affordable housing and decrease homelessness at a time when high housing prices and low capacity are squeezing large numbers of Americans' budgets. However, leaders at the city and state levels repeatedly have requested more help from federal leaders.
Earlier this month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced access to millions of dollars of emergency funding for communities that launch a 100-day challenge to reduce homelessness. At that time, he also repeated his call for the Trump administration to do more to support communities in their homelessness mitigation efforts, specifically to increase housing vouchers.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is one of the mayors who led the letter-signing effort. Seattle has been particularly hard hit by the affordable housing crisis and Durkan has announced numerous initiatives to turn the tide since taking office in 2017. This year she sent legislation to the city council to reduce the negative effects of gentrification. That followed her Februrary executive order to create more low- and medium-income affordable housing, especially in areas that have a high risk of displacement and gentrification.
Large private companies — including Amazon and Microsoft — also have contributed funding to the Seattle Metro area as they face mounting pressure to counteract their contribution to cost-of-living increases. But some experts remain skeptical that the tech giants' contributions will be sufficient.
The new legislation would expand the housing work already in progress, the letter signatories say. “The Housing Credit is a critical tool that helps cities like Seattle continue the kind of public-private partnerships we need to truly address our affordable housing crisis," Durkan said in a statement.