Seattle, NYC Mayors Urge Expansion of Low-Income Housing Tax Credit

Seattle Mayor Edward Murray and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio are calling on Congress to expand the federal low-income housing tax credit, the country’s most successful housing program, by 50 percent.

The mayors represent two cities whose residents are among hardest hit by one of the worst housing crises in our nation’s history. Today they sent a letter to Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-UT, and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-OR, the chair and ranking member of Senate Finance Committee, urging swift passage of S. 2962, the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, introduced  by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-WA, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, and co-sponsored by Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-NY.  The letter has the support of twenty-two bipartisan mayors from around the country. Earlier this week, the bipartisan United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) also adopted a formal policy position supporting this critical legislation.

“The low-income housing tax credit has created 18,000 affordable homes in Seattle over the years and is a key element of our Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, which aims to assist the tens of thousands of Seattleites who spend half their income or more on housing,” said Murray, who has set a goal of creating 20,000 affordable housing units over the next decade – a goal to which the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act would contribute roughly 8,850 homes. “It’s also a vital tool to build housing for the thousands of Seattleites who have no place to call home at all.

The City of Seattle thanks Senators Cantwell, Schumer, and Hatch for their leadership on this critical issue of affordability.”

In November of 2015, Murray declared a Homelessness State of Emergency in Seattle, seeking additional state and federal resources to address the double-digit increase of people living outside or in shelters over the prior year.

“The Low Income Housing Tax Credit is the largest driver of investment in affordable housing in New York City and across our nation. This program has been critical to the development of thousands of affordable housing units in our city,” Mayor de Blasio said. “As we push to build and preserve 200,000 affordable homes in New York City in just 10 years, I applaud Senators Schumer, Cantwell and Hatch for their commitment to expanding the tax credit and also moving to make it more flexible – and so help millions of Americans, including low-income New Yorkers, live in safe, healthy, and affordable homes. This proposed legislation creates housing and jobs. It’s straight up smart, and we urge the U.S. Congress to pass this legislation as soon as possible.”

According to New York City’s Coalition for the Homeless, there were over 60,000 homeless people sleeping in the New York City municipal shelter system. In addition, 56 percent of New York City renters pay more than one third of their income on rent and utilities – and three in 10 renter household pay more than 50 percent of their household income in rent, and are considered to be severely rent burdened.

Since its creation in 1986, the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit has helped develop or preserve more than 122,000 homes in New York City, and more than 170,290 in New York State. The tax credit has financed nearly 3 million homes across the United States. If passed, the proposed legislation would finance approximately 400,000 additional units of affordable housing nationwide over the next decade alone.