For a federal lawmaker, I’m a pretty optimistic person. Time and again, I’ve seen members of both parties rise above partisan rhetoric to solve big problems.
But, recently, there hasn’t been a lot to be optimistic about when it comes to our nation’s housing challenges.
I pulled some headlines from various news outlets across my home state of Indiana over the last few weeks, and they paint a bleak picture:
- “Affordable housing scarce across Indiana”
- “Study says Indiana housing cost burden is severe and Statewide”
- “Homeownership is out of reach for many Hoosiers, and advocates and tenants are ‘fed up’”
- “Why Indianapolis still doesn’t have enough affordable housing”
According to one of those articles, for every 100 “extremely low income” households in Indiana, there are only 39 affordable and available rental options.
You can probably run a search for headlines like these in any state in the country and find similar results.
Our nation’s housing crisis is a reality in city centers, growing suburbs, and rural towns. And the solution is to ensure that all Americans have access to quality, affordable housing.
In 2018, in one of those moments that affirmed my optimism, I proudly supported the first boost in the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) in over a decade.
However, as those headlines indicate, we still face a serious dearth of affordable housing.
To help address these needs, I recently reintroduced the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act with Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.). Our bipartisan bill will expand LIHTC and increase the stock of affordable housing by nearly two million units over the next decade.
Then there’s the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act (NHIA), a bill I introduced in March with Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) specifically to target areas of disrepair and blight, where the cost of rehabbing a home isn’t worth the investment.
The NHIA creates a federal tax credit that covers the cost between building or renovating a home in distressed areas and the price at which the home can be sold.
NHIA tax credits are awarded to project sponsors—developers, lenders, or local governments—through a competitive statewide application process administered by each state’s housing finance agency. State agencies would have an annual allocation of either $7 per capita or $9 million, whichever is higher.
For a state like Indiana, that’s nearly $48 million a year, supporting more than 9,000 new homes over a decade.
These are real solutions to our affordable housing crisis. With supporters like you letting your elected officials know how urgent the need is, I’m once again optimistic that we can act to address one of our biggest challenges.