Senator Wyden Proposes Sweeping Housing Tax Credit Reforms

Legislation | August 18, 2021 | by Juliana Bilowich

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) proposes sweeping changes to affordable housing in the US, including expansions and improvements to the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program.

On August 18, Senator Wyden released the Decent Affordable, Safe Housing for All (DASH) Act, which implements sweeping reforms to affordable housing financing in an effort to combat homelessness and expand affordable housing access.

The legislation proposes to expand and improve the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program and make other fixes to the Housing Credit program. The bill also proposes reforms to local zoning and housing development practices, expands vouchers to combat homelessness, and includes a first-time homebuyer tax credit, a rental tax credit, and a Middle Income Housing Tax Credit.

As the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, the bill represents a major show of support for affordable housing from a key Senate office. Specifically, Senator Wyden proposes a range of spending and tax policy reforms, including:

  • Extending Housing Choice Vouchers to all families or individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness
  • Instituting reforms to local zoning and housing development practices
  • Expanding and improving the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit;
  • Repealing the qualified contract loophole;
  • Modifying and clarifying the Section 42 nonprofit Right of First Refusal;
  • Creating a tax credit for affordable housing supportive services,
  • Establishing a Renter’s Tax Credit;
  • Creating a Middle Income Tax Credit; authorizing the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act; and
  • Establishing a First-time Homebuyer Refundable Credit.

Combatting homelessness, expanding the supply of affordable housing (including through the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program), expanding supportive services in affordable housing, and fixing the Right of First Refusal issue are key priorities for LeadingAge.

Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program: Expansion and Improvements

The legislation also includes the Emergency Affordable Housing Act, which would strengthen the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit by preserving and protecting existing LIHTC properties, expanding production of affordable housing, and extending housing to people who earn extremely low incomes. Some of the main provisions of the EAHA would expand the 9% housing tax credit by 50% to house more families; provide a 50% basis boost to projects that prioritize extremely low-income renters; expand the 4% credit for rural areas; reduce the tax-exempt bond financing threshold for 4% credit projects from 50% to 25% for three years; and preserve tens of thousands of affordable housing units by closing a loophole. The EAHA is projected to produce nearly 1 million new affordable housing units over the next 10 years.

Some portions of the bill are expected to move through the Reconciliation process currently underway in Congress. LeadingAge supports key provisions of the bill and will work with the Senate office to advance the legislation.