In Tacoma, Cantwell Cuts Ribbon at Oak Trace, Touts Local Impact of Low Income Housing Tax Credit

New LIHTC-financed complex will provide affordable housing for 63 low-income families

TACOMA, WA – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), joined by Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland and other state and local leaders, celebrated the opening of Oak Trace Apartments in Tacoma.

Cantwell touted the 63-unit complex as a local example of how the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) leverages private investment to develop affordable housing and create jobs in communities across Washington and the United States.

“Tacoma, like many parts of the country, is facing an affordable housing crisis. According to the State Department of Commerce, there are only 12 affordable and available units of housing for every 100 extremely low-income families in Tacoma,” said Cantwell. “In the Senate, I have introduced legislation with my colleague Senator Orrin Hatch from Utah to expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit by 50 percent, which would be help build more than 2,500 affordable homes right here in Tacoma.”

“Trillium Housing Services and MacDonald Development are thrilled to welcome a champion for affordable housing, Senator Maria Cantwell, to Oak Trace, an affordable housing community that exemplifies the private-public partnership created by the Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program,” said Sue Baker, President of Cambridge Management, Inc. “There is an incredible unmet need for affordable housing in Pierce County and we look forward to supporting Senator Cantwell’s efforts to expand the LIHTC program so that more communities like Oak Trace can be developed to address the housing crisis in the county and in this country.”

The U.S. is in the midst of an unprecedented affordable housing crisis. This is particularly evident in Tacoma and Pierce County, where there are only 10 affordable, available units for every 100 extremely low-income families. The shortage leaves more than 16,000 extremely low-income renters in the county without access to affordable housing.

Recognizing the need to confront the housing crisis head-on, Senator Cantwell has introduced legislation to expand LIHTC by 50%. Her Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act would help create or preserve some 1.3 million affordable homes nation-wide over a 10-year period. In Tacoma, the expanded LIHTC proposed in the Cantwell bill would help build or preserve more than 2,500 affordable units. Annually, 90% of new affordable housing units in the U.S. are built with the tax credit. The bill is cosponsored by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and 18 other senators.

“The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit is our best tool for fighting the housing crisis in Washington state,” said Karen Miller, chair of the Washington State Housing Finance Commission. “Statewide it has created and/or preserved more than 81,000 affordable apartments, more than 6,800 of them in Pierce County. It creates safe, affordable housing that enhances communities of all sizes, for all kinds of people from working families to the homeless to seniors.”

Last year, Cantwell, along with the ACTION Campaign – a coalition of 1,300 affordable housing organizations across the country – began a national campaign in Seattle to increase federal resources for affordable housing and build support for expanding the Low Income Housing Tax Credit. The senator has held events across the country, including in Tacoma, Spokane, Walla Walla, Portland, and New York City. In 2015, Cantwell championed the Housing Credit and secured a critical fix to the program by permanently extending the credit rates to 9 percent of eligible costs on new construction. This ended an era when variable rates made financing of affordable housing less predictable.

Since its creation 30 years ago, LIHTC has financed nearly 2.9 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 that have been financed by the Housing Credit.