House Passes HEROES Act, Senate Advocacy for 4% Housing Credit Rate Continues
On May 15, the House of Representatives passed a bill in a narrow party-line vote that would provide $3 trillion to address emergency measures as part of the ongoing coronavirus response. The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act), H.R. 6800, includes funding for a wide range of programs, including critical investments in affordable housing and community development. In addition to other non-housing related provisions, the bill would provide $100 billion for emergency rental assistance through the Emergency Solutions Grant program, establish a $75 million fund to help homeowners pay their mortgages, and expand and extend the eviction moratorium and forbearance allowances established under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act that Congress passed in March. However, the HEROES Act does not include the immediate relief needed for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) as a result of the crisis. Click here to read more about the HEROES Act.
It is now up to the Senate to take up the next COVID-19 response package, the leadership of which has so far dismissed the House bill as dead on arrival. We expect that the Senate, once it begins working on legislation, will have different priorities than the House and legislation coming from that chamber will likely be narrower in scope.
The ACTION Campaign is continuing our advocacy with the Senate, with the hopes that the Senate may be willing to include our Housing Credit priorities in their version of the next bill. We are strategically narrowing our focus for Senate advocacy to enacting a minimum 4 percent Housing Credit rate, which has the best chance of advancement considering the falling rate tied to federal borrowing rates. The proposal to establish a minimum 4 percent Housing Credit rate already has strong bipartisan support, is directly responsive to new affordable housing challenges created by the COVID-19 crisis, and has precedent from when the corresponding minimum 9 percent rate was enacted in response to the 2008 economic crisis. ACTION will continue to advocate for additional Housing Credit priorities in future recovery packages, where there could be more opportunities to include Housing Credit provisions.
Advocates should ask their Senate offices to urge Senate Leadership to include important emergency measures to keep critically-needed affordable housing and the jobs that produce those homes moving forward in the next COVID-19 response package by setting a minimum 4 percent rate for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit.