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According to a report this year from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, the nation’s housing stock has subtracted more than 700,000 subsidized rentals since the mid-1990s, and adding new supply is getting harder than ever. The country now adds about 75,000 subsidized rental units every year, compared to about 300,000 in the 1970s. And what is still around is aging fast; the median age of a subsidized apartment building these days is about 38 years.
 
Preserving the LIHTC is one way to ensure that aging apartment buildings are replaced and that new ones are built to meet rising demand. But we also have to strengthen support for those in the federal government who are taking on this important mission.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has done an admirable job over the past few years in managing a three-fold increase in FHA mortgage insurance applications for new and refinanced mortgages for affordable, workforce, and senior housing developments. And still, FHA-insured multifamily housing loans remain among the best performing loans in the business, returning money back to the Treasury.
 
Further investments in HUD’s multifamily staff and other resources would allow them to do even more to close the affordable rental housing supply gap, while putting Americans back to work in the process. The National Multi Housing Council estimates that for every 1,000 apartment units that are built, 1,160 full-time jobs in construction and related industries are generated.

With so much of the nation’s focus on the single family market, we have lost sight of the fact that renting is the only option for many Americans. Our economy doesn’t need another housing crisis. It needs smart housing policy that gives everybody a chance at a roof over their heads, regardless if they own it or not.
 
Mark Dellonte is president of Love Funding, one of the nation’s leading providers of FHA multifamily and healthcare financing.