Cantwell, DelBene, Regional Mayors, Housing Advocates Push for New Federal Resources to Address Affordable Housing Crisis in Seattle
Seattle is fourth among big U.S. cities for the cost of rent and utilities; In Washington, Cantwell-DelBene legislation would build more than 9,700 new affordable housing units, provide more than 11,000 jobs
SEATTLE – With average rents in Seattle recently reaching the fourth-highest in the United States, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and U.S. Representative Suzan DelBene (D, WA-01) joined the mayors of Seattle, Tacoma, and Everett, as well as local housing advocates, to push for new federal resources to address the worsening affordable housing crisis.
“We’re here today to say that the Affordable Housing Tax Credit is the answer to the housing crisis that we face in the United States of America,” Senator Cantwell said. “We’re here to try to create the national movement necessary to increase the Affordable Housing Tax Credit by 50% when we return to Congress in September.”
“Affordable housing is an issue that has gone neglected for far too long,” said Representative DelBene. “But hopefully with the bipartisan support we have and with the new leadership in the House of Representatives, we can begin to take the steps necessary to ensure the vision of affordable housing for every single family in this country.”
In June, Cantwell and DelBene introduced the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2019 to expand and strengthen the Affordable Housing Tax Credit (also known as the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit) to produce more units of affordable housing and better serve at-risk and underserved communities. The Affordable Housing Tax Credit would create roughly 1.9 million new affordable housing units over the next decade – with more than 550,000 new units because of this legislation – including more than 9,700 in Washington state.
“A 50% increase [in the AHTC] would add between 400 and 500 more affordable apartments each year to what we’re doing now – all desperately needed by peoples and communities,” said Kim Herman, Executive Director of the Washington State Housing Finance Commission. “Across the country, the [Cantwell-DelBene] bill would develop thousands more. We can do it if Congress will step up and join our champions, Senator Cantwell and Representative DelBene.”
Overall, the Cantwell-DelBene legislation would help build more than 9,700 new affordable housing units in Washington over ten years, in addition to the hundreds of units built each year through the program. The bill will also provide more than 11,000 jobs and add over $1 billion to the Washington economy in wages and business income.
“Tragedy happens and it can happen in anyone’s life. Anyone can end up homeless, on the streets, with no place to go,” said Searetha Simons, a resident of Plymouth Housing, at today’s press conference. “Plymouth Housing is security for me and for many others. Thank you for supporting more funding for affordable housing and homelessness. It truly changes lives.”
In recent years, Washington state has experienced a severe housing affordability crisis. Between 2006 and 2015, the median income in the state increased three percent, but the median rent increased by 18%. More than 450,000 households – or nearly 17% of all households in the state – spend more than 30% of their monthly income on rent, and nearly 220,000 of these households pay more than half of their monthly income. These statistics are even more drastic among extremely low-income renters in the state – 71% pay more half or more of their monthly income on rent.
“The crisis can be solved if we will just put these resources on the table,” Cantwell continued. “It’s just simple supply and demand, and Congress needs to do its job.”
Across the United States, the expanded Affordable Housing Tax Credit would produce roughly 1.9 million new affordable housing units over the next decade, an increase of over 550,000 more units than would be built without the legislation.
Here’s how many units of affordable housing the Affordable Housing Tax Credit has built in each Washington county since the tax credit was created in 1986.
Senator Cantwell’s bipartisan plan to expand and strengthen the Affordable Housing Tax Credit is just the latest step in her campaign to provide more affordable housing throughout the country. Last year, 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.
A fact sheet on Senator Cantwell’s Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2019 is available HERE.
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