Bipartisan, bicameral support for the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (AHCIA) has grown quickly since its introduction in June. Led by Senators Maria Cantwell (DWA), Todd Young (R-IN), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Johnny Isakson (R-GA), the Senate bill (S. 1703), now has 19 bipartisan cosponsors, including more than 40% of the Senate Finance Committee. Led by Representatives Suzan DelBene (DWA-1), Kenny Marchant (R-TX-24), Don Beyer (D-VA-8) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN-2), the House bill (H.R. 3077) now has 137 bipartisan cosponsors, including nearly 70% of the House Ways and Means Committee.
The AHCIA would expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit), resulting in the production or preservation of more than half a million additional affordable homes, and strengthen the already successful public-private partnership to better serve hard-to-reach regions and populations. As the strong and broad congressional support for this legislation shows, the need for affordable housing spans the country, including urban and rural areas alike, and Congress is seeking solutions.
As we near the end of the year, we encourage you and your colleagues to urge members of Congress who have not yet supported this legislation to sign on now. With a very full agenda for the remaining months of 2019, Congress’ primary must-pass item is a bill to continue funding the government beyond November 21, when the current continuing resolution expires. It is possible that tax legislation will accompany a year-end spending bill, which could include extensions of temporary tax provisions, technical corrections to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and other tax priorities. We are working to ensure that the AHCIA is included in any tax legislation, but we need to continue growing support and urging congressional leadership to prioritize affordable housing and the Housing Credit.
Please reach out to your members of Congress, and any members of Congress who represent areas where your organization has had an impact, using our advocacy tools below.
Email Congressional Staff
One important way to garner support for the AHCIA is to email congressional staff who cover tax and housing issues for the Senators and Representatives who have not yet co-sponsored the AHCIA. It is helpful to reach out to those who represent you directly and those who represent the areas in which you work.
Below is a sample email that can be adapted for your use by filling in the red, bracketed words. Please also consider adding your own personal anecdotes, state- or district-specific data, and/or additional details about the AHCIA, which can be found at the bottom of this post.
Contact Megan John to acquire contact information for congressional staff and for any additional assistance
SUBJECT: Support the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act
I’m writing to request your support for the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (AHCIA; S. 1703/H.R. 3077), bipartisan legislation that would significantly expand affordable housing for the residents of [state]. Across the nation and in your state, housing is becoming increasingly difficult to afford. In [state], my organization has [financed/developed/supported the development and preservation of] [number] affordable homes through the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit), but the AHCIA would allow us to serve even more residents.
The AHCIA would expand and strengthen the Housing Credit, which is our nation’s primary tool for financing affordable rental housing. This legislation would increase the allocation for the Housing Credit by 50 percent and will provide more than half a million additional affordable homes across the United States over the next 10 years. The AHCIA will also allow us to better serve rural areas, Native American communities, veterans, extremely low-income and formerly homeless households, and would streamline the Housing Credit in several ways.
I would be happy to provide examples of our work in your state and to answer any questions. For more information you can also see the summary of the bill and details about each provision. I look forward to hearing from you, and hope to gain your support for this important legislation.
Phone calls can be short and direct. When making calls, provide your name and organization, and let the staff know if you are a constituent or how much work your organization has done in the district or state. Explain to the staff that you would like to request that the member of Congress support the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (S. 1703 in the Senate or H.R. 3077 in the House) to provide residents with much-needed affordable housing and to strengthen the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. Feel free to provide personal anecdotes, state- or district-specific data, and/or additional details about the AHCIA, which can be found at the bottom of this post. Provide your contact information in case congressional staff would like to follow up.
Write Letters to Your Members of Congress
The AHTCC has developed sample letters which you can adapt to send to your members of Congress and those representing the areas in which you work. We have included separate letters customized for Senate and House members, based on whether or not they previously cosponsored the AHCIA in the last Congress (the 115th Congress). Download the sample letters here. Please contact Megan John with any questions or if you need assistance acquiring contact information or customizing your letters.
Invite Members of Congress and Their Staff to Property Events
We hear from members of Congress time and time again that seeing Housing Credit properties firsthand made lasting impressions and grew their support for the Housing Credit. While members of Congress may not always be able to attend scheduled events due to their busy schedules, they are often able to send congressional staff or provide letters of congratulations in their place. If members are unable to attend a scheduled event, you can also offer to provide a tour of your property at a time that is convenient for them.
The AHTCC is able to draft or review invitations for members of Congress and their staff, and to provide the appropriate staff contacts. If members of Congress are able to attend your event, the AHTCC can coordinate with congressional staff to develop talking points for the members’ speeches. If they are not able to attend, the AHTCC can work to coordinate letters from members of Congress to be read during the event. Additionally, the AHTCC can assist in developing talking points about the Housing Credit and the AHCIA to be read during the event. For assistance with these efforts, please contact Megan John.
Betty Jo Shepheard, Eastern Regional Field Representative for Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), reads a letter from the Senator at Greystone Affordable Development’s grand reopening event in Warrenton, NC
Advocate for the Housing Credit on Capitol Hill
If you will be in Washington, D.C., please don’t hesitate to reach out. Advocating for the AHCIA firsthand with key congressional offices is an impactful way to help build support for the Housing Credit. We can help by scheduling congressional meetings, providing materials and talking points, and joining you for your meetings. Please contact Megan John to coordinate your visit.
Deep Dive on the AHCIA
The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (AHCIA) is legislation to expand and strengthen the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) that was reintroduced on June 4, 2019, in the Senate (S. 1703) and the House of Representatives (H.R. 3077).
This legislation would allow for the production or preservation of more than 550,000 additional affordable homes over the next ten years and would allow the Housing Credit to better serve special populations, such as veterans and very low-income households, and hard-to-reach areas, such as rural areas, Native American communities, and high-cost regions. Read the summary of the legislation here.
The AHCIA of 2019 includes 27 provisions that would expand and strengthen the Housing Credit.
To increase the production and preservation by more than 550,000 additional affordable homes over 10 years, the AHCIA would:
Increase the 9% Housing Credit allocation by 50% over current law, phased in over 5 years,
Set a minimum 4% Housing Credit rate, and
Allow easier recycling of Multifamily Housing Bonds used in conjunction with the 4% Housing Credit.
To expand the preservation of affordable housing, the AHCIA would:
Strengthen protections against planned foreclosures,
Allow tenant relocation costs to be capitalized by the Housing Credit, and
Provide flexibility around existing tenant income.
To better serve hard-to-reach areas, the AHCIA would:
Provide a 30% basis boost in rural areas,
Provide a 30% basis boost in Native American communities,
Remove the Qualified Census Tract (QCT) population cap, and
Increase the population cap for Difficult Development Areas (DDA) to 30%.
To better serve special populations, the AHCIA would:
Clarify that veterans are exempt from the general public use rule for Multifamily Housing Bond properties,
Provide a 50% basis boost for homes serving extremely low-income and formerly homeless tenants, and
Better align the Housing Credit with the Violence Against Women Act.
To streamline and simplify the Housing Credit, the AHCIA would:
Simplify and better align the Housing Credit’s student rule with HUD’s rule,
Add income averaging as a third minimum set-aside option for Multifamily Housing Bond properties,
Make the Housing Credit compatible with energy tax incentives.
To fight NIMBYism (Not In My Backyard) and promote good governance, the AHCIA would:
Prohibit local approval and contributions requirements, and
Establish a selection criteria for cost reasonableness.
The AHCIA includes additional provisions that would further strengthen the Housing Credit. For more information, see the:
AHTCC Webinar: The AHTCC webinar focuses on key new and returning provisions, the bill’s potential impact, and how you can effectively educate members of Congress about this important legislation.
Affordable Housing Podcast: AHTCC Executive Director Emily Cadik discusses how the AHCIA would increase the production and preservation of affordable housing and improve the delivery of affordable housing to rural and other hard-to-reach areas, as well as the background and development of the AHCIA. The Affordable Housing Podcast was produced by the National Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies (NALHFA).
AHTCC PowerPoint Resource: The resource highlights the need for affordable housing, the benefits of affordable housing, an introduction to the Housing Credit, and key provisions from the AHCIA.