Cantwell, Local Officials, Housing Advocates Push for New Federal Resources to Address Affordable Housing Crisis in Spokane
Median sales price of Spokane homes increased by more than 8% in last year alone; In Washington, Cantwell legislation would build more than 9,700 new affordable housing units, provide more than 11,000 jobs
SPOKANE – As communities across Washington continue to experience the affordable housing crisis, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined local officials and housing advocates in Spokane to push for new federal resources to address the worsening crisis and better support at-risk and underserved communities. In Spokane and communities around the country, high demand and low housing inventory has created a crisis in affordability.
“We’re here to talk about why we need to increase access to affordable housing – not just in the state of Washington or the city of Spokane, but across the nation,” said Senator Cantwell. “Housing needs a boost at a time in our economy when so many people can’t find affordable solutions. The housing crisis can be addressed but we need the help and support of this tax credit.”
In June, Cantwell 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.
“Before I moved to the Home Yard Cottages, I was fresh from recovery, looking for an opportunity to turn my life around,” said Miriah Payne, a resident at Home Yard Cottages in Spokane. “Home Yard Cottages has given me a supportive community through classes, meetings, barbecues, and gardening. I feel a part of something bigger than myself now. Thanks to the Home Yard Cottages, I have hope for my future and the ability to share that hope with others in my same situation.”
Overall, the Cantwell 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.
“Our thanks to Sen. Maria Cantwell for recognizing the challenges that we are working to address around affordable housing in Spokane,” said Spokane Mayor David Condon. “Sen. Cantwell's proposal to expand the Affordable Housing Tax Credit will allow the City to continue to grow and support the development of affordable housing, which is greatly needed in our community. These tax credits allow for flexibility as we work to ensure housing quality and diversity in our community to serve all of our citizens.”
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.
“In Spokane we have a crisis in housing at all levels. We are seeing homelessness increase and lack of housing is a huge cause,” said Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart. “Low-income housing tax credits are a major funding source for projects in Spokane that provide this housing. I urge all members of our congressional delegation to support Senator Cantwell and support these evidence-based solutions to our community’s challenges.”
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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