Join us for a call this Friday, August 14, at 2 p.m. EDT, where we will discuss the status of our Housing Credit legislative priorities as Congress adjourns for August recess, as well as the recent GAO report on the Housing Credit.
Friday, August 14 @ 2:00 p.m. EDT
Participant code: 677-49-533#
August Recess Advocacy Opportunities
August recess provides an ideal opportunity to show members of Congress the impact of the Housing Credit in their communities firsthand as they return to their home states and districts. Use our property event guidelines and grand opening guide to help plan your event.
Tax Reform and Tax Extenders
The Senate Finance Committee approved legislation on July 21 that would strengthen the Housing Credit through an extension of minimum credit rates. The bill would extend the minimum 9 percent Housing Credit rate for new construction and substantial rehabilitation and establish a minimum 4 percent rate for the acquisition of affordable housing for allocations made before January 1, 2017. The bill was reported favorably out of committee with nearly unanimous bipartisan support. Read more about the mark-up and the legislation on the ACTION Campaign blog.
Though the bipartisan support for the Senate Finance Committee’s tax extenders legislation is an important first step, the bill still needs to be taken up by the full Senate and by the House, the timeline for both of which is unclear. When Congress returns from August recess on September 8, it will have less than one month to agree on a strategy for funding the government beyond the September 30 end of the fiscal year, and less than two months to raise the debt ceiling and extend highway funding. While tax extenders may factor into negotiations on these issues, it is also possible that action on tax extenders will be delayed until after these other issues are resolved, and closer to the end of 2015.
GAO Releases Report on Housing Credit Oversight
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report on federal oversight of the Housing Credit in response to a request by Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA). Very significantly, the GAO did not find problems with the Housing Credit program itself. The report actually acknowledges the positive role of the private sector in assuring properties are suitable for occupancy, rented to qualified families at restricted rents and underwritten for quality and sustainability.
The GAO’s primary concern is that the IRS lacks the resources to conduct adequate oversight of the Housing Credit. To address this issue, it recommends that HUD jointly administer the program with the IRS: the IRS would continue to enforce the tax code, and HUD would take on monitoring, data collection and oversight. This recommendation is not likely to gain traction.
Responses from Treasury and HUD indicate that neither agency is supportive of joint administration of the Housing Credit, though both agreed more coordination could be beneficial. The recommendation is also unlikely to be taken up by Congress, where many members are supportive of the Housing Credit because of the federal government’s limited role compared to that of the states. A vigorous argument against joint administration from the National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) is included in the report, which suggests that Congress instead provide more resources to IRS if it believes they are necessary for increased program oversight. Ultimately, though the GAO suggests that the IRS’s attention to the Housing Credit is lacking, it does not dispute the program’s achievements or ability to provide high-quality, affordable homes to our nation’s low-income families.
Minimum Credit Rate Legislation
The minimum Housing Credit rate legislation in the Senate, S. 1193, has 28 co-sponsors. The companion legislation in the House, H.R. 1142, now has 65 co-sponsors. The most recent additions are Timothy Walz (D-MN-1) and Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17).
Join the ACTION Campaign
The ACTION Campaign now has over 1,000 members calling on Congress to support the Housing Credit and Housing Bonds. Join the campaign, or if you are already a campaign supporter, reach out to your partner organizations and encourage them to join the campaign as well.