How the Tax Cut and Jobs Act puts affordable housing production at risk

“Recent headlines have focused on US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary Ben Carson’s proposal to raise rents for low-income households who receive public housing assistance. But less attention has been paid to a federal program instrumental in producing and preserving affordable rental housing and whose effectiveness could be blunted by the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA).

The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program is the longest-running federal program for building new affordable rental housing units and preserving older units built under other federal housing assistance programs. Based on our new analysis of the National Housing Preservation Database, we determine that LIHTC has produced or preserved roughly 2.3 million unique units of affordable housing for eligible low-income households since 1987.

But as we explore in the analysis, the LIHTC program is vulnerable to market downturns and changes in the tax code because it provides financing to developers through a federal income tax credit to private investors.”

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