Breakthrough Congressional Deal Would Provide More Affordable Housing for WA

Cantwell pushed for inclusion of Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program improvements in bipartisan tax package; Once enacted, legislation will help WA add 1,700 affordable housing units in 2024 that otherwise would not have been built

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) announced that improvements she proposed for the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program are included in the tax package agreed upon by the top tax writers in the U.S. Senate and House. Once approved by Congress, these improvements would fund an additional 1,700 units of affordable housing in Washington state in 2024 alone.

Since 1986, the Housing Credit has paid for 90% of the federally-funded affordable housing construction across the country, and has financed nearly 3.5 million affordable homes, including more than 100,000 in Washington state.

“This is the biggest investment in housing in 35 years — and greatly needed.  It will provide over 200,000 new units nationwide over the next two years. In the State of Washington, it will mean over 6,000 new units. This supply catch-up will help working families in both urban and rural areas across the country, and I’m appreciative of Sen. Wyden and Rep. Smith for including this critical investment in the deal announced today,” Sen. Cantwell said.

The package lowers the requirement for bond funding from 50% of a project to 30% of a project for developers to receive the tax credit, marking the first reduction in the bond test in 35 years. According to the Washington State Housing Finance Commission, this will allow the state to issue millions more worth of bonds and build nearly twice as many units as expected -- an additional 1,500 units of housing financed in 2024.

The package also restores a 12.5% tax incentive increase that originally expired in 2021. According to the Washington State Housing Finance Commission, this improvement will allow Washington state to fund 222 more affordable apartment units in 2024, and 600-650 units over three years. The increase helps the state allocate more funding for housing for the lowest income and most vulnerable people in Washington state, especially the homeless.

Sen. Cantwell has long advocated for the need to increase the availability of affordable housing and is the leading LIHTC advocate in the Senate – she worked hard behind the scenes to make sure these improvements were included in the final agreement. In 2021 and in 2023 she introduced the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, along with Rep. Susan DelBene (D-WA, 01). Sen. Cantwell led efforts to build a bipartisan, bicameral coalition in support of that legislation, which is now joined by 238 Members – 44% of the entire Congress – evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. Provisions of that Act were adopted in the deal announced today. 

Since its creation, the Housing Credit has helped build or restore nearly 100,000 affordable homes in the State of Washington. The economic activity that the credit generated has supported nearly 170,000 jobs and generated more than $19 billion in wages.

Photos of Sen. Cantwell visiting housing developments across the State of Washington funded by the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit can be found HERE.