45 Mayors Across America Call for Action on Cantwell, DelBene Affordable Housing Bill
In bipartisan letter to congressional leaders, mayors push for passage of legislation that would build 550,000 new units nationwide in the next decade; Mayors representing 8 of 10 most populous U.S. cities, communities in 19 states sign letter
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a letter sent today, a bipartisan group of 45 mayors representing communities in 19 states throughout the country and the District of Columbia urged congressional leaders to include affordable housing legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and U.S. Representative Suzan DelBene (D, WA-01) in any tax package considered by Congress before the end of the year. The list includes mayors representing 8 of the 10 most populous cities, and 14 of the top 25, in the United States.
The letter was led by the mayors of Seattle, WA, and Tacoma, WA. It was also signed by the mayors of: Anchorage, AK; Mesa, AZ; Phoenix, AZ; Tucson, AZ; East Palo Alto, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Newark, CA; Oakland, CA; Oceanside, CA; Rancho Cordova, CA; Sacramento, CA; San Francisco, CA; San Jose, CA; San Leandro, CA; Santa Monica, CA; Denver, CO; Washington, D.C.; Chicago, IL; Carmel, IN; Louisville, KY; New Orleans, LA; Boston, MA; Minneapolis, MN; Saint Paul, MN; St. Louis, MO; New York, NY; Newburgh, NY; Rochester, NY; Akron, OH; Cleveland, OH; Columbus, OH; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Dallas, TX; San Antonio, TX; Montpelier, VT; Vergennes, VT; Winooski, VT; Alexandria, VA; Colville, WA; Everett, WA; Madison, WI; and Milwaukee, WI.
“Our nation is facing one of the worst housing crises in our history,” the mayors wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. “The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act would have a critical impact in addressing our rental housing shortages and increasing access to affordable housing for hard-working families, seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities.”
Calling the Housing Credit a “model public-private partnership,” the mayors continued: “the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act would provide a much-needed investment in our nation’s housing infrastructure, while also generating $48.5 billion in wages and business income, $19.1 billion in additional tax revenue, and 510,000 jobs.”
In June, Cantwell and DelBene introduced the bipartisan Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2019. The bill would expand the Affordable Housing Tax Credit – also known as the Low Income Housing Tax Credit – creating more than 550,000 new units than would otherwise be built, including almost 10,000 in Washington state. The bill would also support more than 11,000 jobs in Washington and add over $1 billion to the state’s economy in wages and business income.
In recent years, the United States has experienced a severe housing affordability crisis. In Washington state between 2006 and 2015, the median rent increased by 18%, while the median income in the state increased only three percent. In 2017, more than 500,000 households – nearly 37% of all households in the state – spent more than 30% of their monthly income on rent, and nearly 400,000 of these households paid more than half of their monthly income. These statistics are even more drastic among extremely low-income renters in the state – 71% pay half or more of their monthly income on rent.
In addition to building thousands of new units, the Cantwell-DelBene legislation would enable the Housing Tax Credit to better serve at-risk and underserved communities by increasing the number of credits available for housing developments serving extremely low-income populations, those with special needs, and those in Indian Country. The legislation would also strengthen veteran-specific housing options and allow states to increase the credits available for projects in rural areas.
Affordable housing has long been a priority issue for Senator Cantwell. In 2018, she successfully secured a nearly $3 billion down payment toward addressing the affordable housing crisis, helping to build over 28,000 units and support an additional 32,000 jobs. Earlier this year, she joined colleagues to introduce bipartisan legislation that would establish a task force on the affordable housing crisis. DelBene has been a leading voice in the House of Representatives on affordable housing legislation. She has held numerous roundtables with local organizations in Washington state to find solutions to the affordable housing crisis facing so many families throughout Washington state.
A fact sheet on Cantwell and DelBene’s Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2019 is available HERE.
More information on the tax credit is available HERE.
The full letter is available below.
December 9, 2019
Dear Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy,
As bipartisan mayors representing communities in 18 states and the District of Colombia, we write to urge you to include S. 1703/H.R. 3077, the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2019, as part of any tax package. The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) is our nation’s primary tool for encouraging private investment in affordable rental housing. This bipartisan legislation would help strengthen and expand the highly effective Housing Credit, resulting in more than half a million additional affordable homes nationwide over the next decade.
Our nation is facing one of the worst housing crises in our history. As residents of our cities continue to face these challenges, we know that access to safe and affordable housing is essential for the health and well-being of our residents and the economic strength of our communities. Nearly 11 million renter households – one in four of all renters in the U.S. – spend more than half of their monthly income on housing costs alone. With that severe cost burden, there is very little left for other necessities, such as food, healthcare, education, and transportation to employment, let alone for retirement or college savings. The Housing Credit has long been the most effective and critical tool to building new and preserving existing affordable housing. The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act would have a critical impact in addressing our rental housing shortages and increasing access to affordable housing for hard-working families, seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities.
As a model public-private partnership, the Housing Credit has financed the development or preservation of 3.2 million affordable homes. In addition to financing virtually all affordable housing development today, the Housing Credit provides economic benefits and creates jobs. Furthermore, by design, the Housing Credit is administered at the state level so that it can address rural, urban, and suburban communities’ unique housing needs nationwide. We must respond to the alarming need for more affordable housing in our cities, and the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act would provide a much-needed investment in our nation’s housing infrastructure, while also generating $48.5 billion in wages and business income, $19.1 billion in additional tax revenue, and 510,000 jobs.
Strong federal leadership in partnership with our cities is critical to addressing the housing needs in our communities. This legislation has broad, bipartisan support and is critical for our cities, our residents, and our nation. We urge you to include S. 1703/H.R. 3077, the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2019, in any tax package.
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