The President is threatening to veto a bill that would extend dozens of expired tax provisions because it does too little to support struggling families and the middle class and too much to help corporations. 

One way to create a more balanced agreement would be to strengthen the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) by making permanent the minimum 9 percent rate for new construction and substantial rehabilitation and establishing a permanent, minimum 4 percent rate for the acquisition of affordable housing.

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These rates were already approved on a temporary basis with bipartisan support in the Senate Finance Committee’s Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act because they significantly strengthen the Housing Credit at virtually no additional cost to taxpayers. For similar reasons S. 1442 or Improving the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Rate Act and H.R. 4717 were introduced to make these rates permanent.

The Housing Credit is America’s main tool for financing affordable housing. It is one of only two corporate tax provisions that ultimately benefit low-income households.  Since it was signed into law by President Reagan in 1986, the Housing Credit has produced or preserved over 2.7 million affordable homes for America’s hardworking families, veterans, people with special needs, seniors, teachers, nurses, firefighters and police officers -- while supporting 95,000 jobs or so each year, mostly in small businesses. 

America faces a growing affordable housing crisis. Demand for affordable housing is at an all-time high. In 2012, there were only 3.3 million rental apartments affordable and available to 11.5 million extremely low-income households. The Housing Credit is the only source of new supply. Without the Housing Credit it is fundamentally uneconomic to develop housing affordable to millions of families across the country.

However, financing these homes has become more difficult. Because of the way Housing Credit rates are currently determined there is now 15 to 20 percent less Housing Credit equity available for any given property than Congress originally envisioned. Without sufficient equity, many worthwhile properties are simply impossible to finance. 

The Housing Credit represents the best of how government partnerships with the private sector can accomplish goals set by the Congress and president to help revitalize distressed neighborhoods and support mixed-income communities in high-cost areas. 

A permanent extension of minimum Housing Credit rates would represent a win for businesses and low- and moderate-income households alike, helping to bring balance to any tax extenders package.

Solis is senior vice president and Public Policy & Corporate Affairs executive at Enterprise Community Partners.