Cantwell Urges Inclusion of Affordable Housing Tax Credit in Build Back Better Package

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) spoke on the Senate floor about the urgent need to include the Affordable Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) in the Build Back Better reconciliation package to address the affordable housing crisis in the United States.

“We need to incent more affordable housing…because if you don’t incent it with a tax credit, then people won’t build it,” Cantwell said. “The Affordable Housing Tax Credit is the primary tool at which we build housing…90% of the affordable housing that gets built in the United States of America gets built with the tax credit. So that means even if we have other programs in the legislation that we’ve been talking about between the House and Senate, like the Home Grant Program…if you don’t use this aspect of the program, you’re not going to be able to build [that] housing.”

Senator Cantwell has long advocated for the need to increase the availability of affordable housing. In April, Cantwell led the introduction of the bipartisan Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2021 along with Sens. Todd Young (R-IN), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rob Portman (R-OH). The legislation would expand and strengthen the Housing Credit to produce more than 66,000 units of affordable housing around the State of Washington and better serve a number of at-risk and underserved communities. Nationwide, the expanded Housing Credit would build more than 2 million new affordable housing units over the next 10 years.

In her closing remarks, Senator Cantwell called on her Senate colleagues to support the inclusion of the legislation in the final reconciliation bill, “This tax credit is bipartisan. It’s worked successfully. I would say it’s one of the most successful programs that we’ve had in the United States for getting affordable housing. Let’s not leave it off the table, let’s put it in this legislation and make sure it gets to the goal line of the President’s desk and is signed into law.”

The expansion of the Housing Credit and its inclusion in the Build Back Better plan is supported by a wide range of stakeholders. This week, 44 mayors representing communities across 20 states and the District of Columbia — including Mayor Jenny Durkan of Seattle, Mayor Victoria Woodards of Tacoma, and Mayor Cassie Franklin of Everett — sent a letter to President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi urging them to include the expansion of the Housing Credit in any infrastructure investment package. Another group of 33 Mayors sent a letter calling on Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi to ensure that funding for housing remains a key component of the budget reconciliation bills. And in late August, more than half of the House Democratic caucus signed a letter in support of the Housing Credit provisions in reconciliation.

In September, the House Ways & Means Committee included approximately $29 billion to expand the Housing Credit in its portion of the Build Back Better plan. According to experts, that investment would build approximately 1.4 million additional affordable housing units over 10 years, and would generate $235 billion in wages and business income, along with $81 billion in tax revenue.

Both LIHTC Mayoral support letters are available HERE and HERE.

The House Democratic Caucus members’ letter available HERE.

Video of Senator Cantwell’s floor remarks is available HERE, audio is available HERE, and a full transcript is available HERE.