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It would assist families who are not reached by rental assistance programs such as Housing Choice Vouchers, which are highly effective but assist only a fraction of eligible families because of inadequate funding.
The credit could help a sizable number of poor families to afford housing at a relatively modest overall cost.
For example, a credit with an annual cost of billion once fully phased in could enable about 720,000 poor families to live in a stable home at per-family cost of ,300, close to the same as the cost of a housing voucher.
This would amount to less than 5 percent of current federal homeownership tax expenditures and just 14 percent of the cost of the mortgage interest and property tax deductions now provided to taxpayers with incomes above 0,000.
Families living in renters’ credit units would pay no more than 30 percent of their income for rent and utilities — the accepted federal standard of affordability — and the rental unit’s owner would receive a federal tax credit in return for reducing the rent to that level.
Creating a renters’ tax credit would improve the match between federal housing spending and need.
(See Figure 1.) The new credit would complement the existing Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), which is an effective subsidy for building and rehabilitating affordable housing but on its own rarely makes units affordable to poor families — who generally cannot afford rents adequate to cover the ongoing costs of operating housing (such as maintenance, insurance, and utilities).
By allocating renters’ credits to developments in neighborhoods where infrastructure investments are planned, states could ensure that working-poor families and seniors and people with disabilities are not excluded from those investments’ benefits.
We discuss below the following seven key features of the proposed credit: Under the proposed credit, states would receive authority to allocate renters’ credits up to a cap set by a federal formula.
Finally, the proposed renters’ credit would be well suited to ensure that the lowest-income households share in the benefits of investment in transportation and other infrastructure.
Infrastructure improvements can drive up rents in affected neighborhoods, preventing low-income families from moving to those areas and in some cases displacing long-time residents.