Today Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the LIHTC Financing Enabling Long-term Investment in Neighborhood Excellence (LIFELINE) Act (S.4181) (see bill text), the Senate’s companion legislation to the House LIFELINE Act (H.R. 7078). This legislation would address barriers to using Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (SLFRF) resources to support affordable housing.
The National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) found that 18 Housing Finance Agencies have collectively committed at least $8 billion of the SLFRF’s total $350 billion to affordable housing. However, while affordable housing is an eligible use of SLFRF program funds, the SLFRF structure makes it very difficult, and in many cases impossible, to use these funds in a Housing Credit development. The LIFELINE Act would make SLFRF funds more available for affordable housing developments receiving Housing Credits by removing statutory barriers in place, freeing up SLFRF dollars so cities, counties, and states can support affordable housing developments. Though the Treasury Department supports these changes, a legislative change is needed in order for Treasury to have the authority to distribute the funds in this way. For more details on the legislation, see press releases from the offices of Sen. Leahy and Sen. Collins.
The Senate version of the LIFELINE Act differs slightly from the House version by clarifying that Housing Credit properties must be placed in service after the date of enactment to be eligible, requiring additional reporting from the Treasury Department, and requiring project sponsors to repay loaned funds in the event of noncompliance and to waive their right to a qualified contract. Representatives Alma Adams (D-NC), David Rouzer (R-NC), and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) are the lead sponsors of the House LIFELINE Act.
In February, the AHTCC and 81 other organizations, including 55 AHTCC members, joined a letter to congressional leadership led by the NCSHA urging that the SLFRF program be adjusted to facilitate its use with the Housing Credit, and have endorsed the subsequent legislation.