The Bipartisan Policy Center was founded in 2007 by former Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole, and George Mitchell for the purpose of developing and recommending sound solutions to national problems. The Center has recently issued a report titled Housing America’s Future: New Directions for National Policy. The panel that made the recommendations contained within the report consisted of George Mitchell, former Senator Kit Bond, and former HUD Secretaries Henry Cisneros and Mel Martinez.
The Plan includes many recommendations, a number of which would impact affordable housing programs, including the LIHTC program. Major recommendations in these areas include the following:
- Replace Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with a government Corporation that would provide a limited catastrophic guarantee for single and multifamily loans and securities;
- Expand the annual amount of 9 percent tax credits by 50%, but possibly with a different allocation formula;
- E.g., additional credits could be allocated based on a state’s share of cost-burdened renters; or
- Base the allocation on the relative size of a state’s renter population.
(Either of these would be an improvement in the current allocation process, which does not recognize the relative needs of different states).
- Increasing appropriations for HUD’s HOME program to provide additional gap financing for LIHTC projects and for emergency assistance;
- Limit the use of vouchers to households at or below the 30% AMI level (current limit is 80% of AMI), although people up to the 80% level could still be assisted in emergencies, such as job loss or medical conditions;
- Require greater accountability for HUD rental assistance programs and reward better performance by housing providers; and
- Continue homeownership tax incentives.
While proposals like this are not binding on Congress, they are indicative of the broad bipartisan support for the LIHTC program. Developers and operators of LIHTC housing are encouraged to contact their House Members and Senators and encourage their support of the recommendations outlined in the report.