Wyden, Merkley Introduce Low-income Housing Legislation

Washington, D.C. – Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley said today they are co-sponsoring a bipartisan bill that would target the affordable housing crisis by strengthening and expanding the federal low-income housing tax credit.

“This legislation provides a solid foundation for the major remodel that America’s housing policy needs in response to the lack of affordable housing for people of all ages,” said Wyden, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee. “Building on the proven success of the low-income housing credit ensures that more Americans can have a roof over their heads where they can be safe.”

“I’ve heard from Oregonians who have to dedicate the majority of their income to housing or who are forced into homelessness because they simply can’t meet rising costs of housing,” Merkley said. “This legislation will begin to address the housing costs that have spiraled far beyond workers’ wage increases, and provide permanent homes for more American families.”

The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act would strengthen and expand the low-income housing tax credit by 50 percent. The legislation would help create or preserve about 1.3 million affordable homes over a 10-year period – an increase of about 400,000 units than is possible under the existing program.

The bill also includes key reforms that would allow an estimated 58,000 students nationwide experiencing homelessness to take advantage of the affordable housing units created with the low-income housing tax credit. And the legislation would expand development opportunities in rural and Native communities while providing flexibility to developments so they can better tailor their units to people experiencing homelessness.

The low-income housing tax credit has provided financing for more than 37,000 affordable homes in Oregon since the credit went into effect 30 years ago. Nationwide during that same time period, that credit has helped to finance the development of nearly 3 million affordable homes.

In addition to Wyden and Merkley, the bill introduced by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) is co-sponsored by Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Patrick Leahy, (D-Vt.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Todd Young (R-Ind.)