Cantwell Secures Significant Down Payment to Address the Nation’s Affordable Housing Crisis

Cantwell provision is first increase in Low Income Housing Tax Credit in over a decade

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As rents and home prices across the country skyrocket, especially in the Pacific Northwest, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) today secured a key provision in the omnibus spending deal boosting affordable housing nationwide.

Cantwell’s provision would increase the Low Income Housing Tax Credit by 12.5% over the next 4 years -- the first increase in over a decade.

“This is the first increase in over a decade.  Nearly $3 billion is a good start towards tackling the housing crisis in our cities and rural communities. The increase couldn’t come at a better time.  This down payment will help us deal with the tremendous deficit we have in affordable housing,” said Cantwell.

Cantwell’s provision comes as the recent GOP tax bill hurt future development of affordable housing and as the affordable housing crisis continues to worsen. According to a 2017 report, more than 9 million new renters have joined the market since 2005 – the largest increase on record. From 2000 to 2013, the total number of Americans facing extreme housing unaffordability has ballooned from 7 million to 11.2 million – a nearly 60 percent increase. In addition, there is a nationwide shortage of 7.2 million affordable rental homes, a significant increase from the 4.4 million gap in 2000, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

"Enterprise is thrilled that the omnibus will strengthen and expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. We especially want to thank Senator Cantwell for her fierce determination to make more homes affordable to the 11 million households who struggle to keep a roof over their heads. These proposals from the Cantwell-Hatch Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act have been enacted at a time when they could not be more urgently needed. We look forward to continuing our work with Senator Cantwell and other Congressional leaders to continue to support and strengthen our affordable housing delivery system,” said Emily Cadik, senior director of public policy at Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.

And in Washington state, the affordable housing crisis is getting worse at an even faster pace. Since 2000, median rents have risen by 7.6 percent -- 2.5 percentage points higher than the rest of the country. In addition, there are 16 percent fewer rental homes available in Washington state compared to US average. Overall, about 400,000 Washington households are paying half their monthly income towards housing.

“Senator Cantwell’s legislation provision is a very welcome boost to the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit,” said Kim Herman, executive director of the Washington State Housing Finance Commission. “She is the most effective champion for affordable housing in Congress, and we are so grateful that she has continued to fight for Washington households who are struggling with housing costs.”

Since 2016, Senator Cantwell, along with the ACTION Campaign, have built support for expanding the LIHTC across Washington state and the country. Cantwell has met with stakeholders and visited affordable housing developments at events in Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane, Vancouver, Walla Walla, Longview, Kent, Bremerton, Bellingham, Portland, New York City and Salt Lake City.

Since its creation 30 years ago, the LIHTC has financed nearly 3 million homes across the United States, leveraging more than $100 billion in private investment. Between 1986 and 2013, more than 13.3 million people have lived in homes financed by the LIHTC.