Congressional Republicans Take Aim at Federal Housing Funds

As June draws to a close, it’s becoming clear that local and national leaders have very different ideas about how to best celebrate National Homeownership Month.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (breitbart.com)

                                                       House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (breitbart.com)

While the District government led its June Housing Bloom initiative, Republicans in the House and Senate released two separate plans that would result in billions of federal dollars being directed away from affordable housing. This comes at a time when more American renters than ever before are severely cost burdened, paying over 50 percent of their income for housing each month.

In the lower chamber, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has been busy rolling out his comprehensive legislative agenda. Titled “A Better Way,” Ryan’s proposal contains the traditional conservative mainstays: consolidation and elimination of federal programs, work requirements for families receiving government assistance, and the repeal and replacement of Obamacare.

In its tax reform recommendations, it decries the current corporate tax code, which it says is “littered with special-interest deductions and credits.” To fix this (and to at least partially off-set its massive corporate tax rate cut), the plan calls for the elimination of all corporate deductions except those used for research and development.

Caught up in the bloodbath is the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC, pronounced “lie tech”), a program that has provided financing for over 2 million affordable units since its creation under the Reagan Administration. That number includes thousands of units in Washington, DC and even a current affordable rental project of MANNA’s.

LIHTC provides a tax credit to developers for housing that is affordable to renters making 60 percent or less of their Area Median Income—apparently just the kind of “special interest deduction” that Ryan’s plan finds so repugnant.

Senate Bill

In the Senate, Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced the “Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act,” which would dismantle all current federal housing programs and replace them with a block grant to states.

Modeled off of legislation announced by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) earlier in June, it would mean the end of federal housing funds for means-tested programs. Instead, states would need to develop their own plans.

These new plans would also have to deal with ever-decreasing funds—the bill calls for cutting federal housing aid in half over the next decade.

Rep. Ryan has recently been attempting to reform Republican rhetoric on poverty, chastising himself and his colleagues for referring to poor mothers and others receiving government assistance as “takers.” It seems, however, that these reforms were indeed purely rhetorical.

If you would like to express your feelings about the importance of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, you can do so at http://waysandmeans.house.gov/taxreform/. Scroll to the bottom of the page to find the “Tax Blueprint Feedback” form.

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