CHAPA Joins Other New England Housing Organizations to Oppose Provisions of the Federal ‘Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’ Released Last Week
BOSTON — Housing advocacy organizations from around New England, including the Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA), today announced their opposition to provisions of the tax cut proposal released by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Representative Kevin Brady (R-TX) last week.
“This tax cut proposal would have devastating impacts on the creation and preservation of affordable housing in Massachusetts,” said Rachel Heller, CEO of the Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association in Massachusetts and coordinator of the New England Housing Network. “Massachusetts is in the midst of our worst housing crisis in decades, and we need to be investing more resources in affordable housing, not slashing successful public-private programs that build affordable homes.”
At a time when we already have a regional shortage of 338,149 affordable rental homes for extremely low income households, including 158,769 homes in Massachusetts, the tax proposal would eliminate tax credits that have helped create hundreds of thousands of affordable homes for people with low and moderate incomes.
“This tax proposal would reduce private investment in affordable housing, worsen our regional housing crisis, and set up massive future budget cuts,” continued Heller. “We need our federal representatives to reject these provisions and pursue real tax reform that helps address our housing crisis and protects struggling low- and moderate-income people.”
“Massachusetts has long been a leader in affordable housing, creating our own state low income housing tax credit, state bond programs, state public housing stock, and state rental subsidy programs. Many of our communities are making progress in decreasing housing instability and homelessness,” said Joe Kriesberg, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations. “But, we cannot do this on our own. We need Congress to fully invest in resources that help people keep a roof over their heads. Instead, this bill would undermine our homeownership efforts, leave people out on the street, and hurt our communities.”
The House tax proposal:
Significantly weakens the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, a successful public-private partnership that has become the foundation for affordable housing development across New England and the nation. While the credit itself is retained, it would be significantly weakened due to the corporate tax rate being significantly lowered. With less of a need for tax credits, the value of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit would drop, greatly reducing investments in low income housing by private companies. The tax proposal contains no changes to the credit that would help address this impact.
Eliminates the tax exemption on Private Activity Bonds, including multifamily housing bonds. This tax exemption allows bond-financed multifamily projects to access ‘4% Housing Credits,’ which have helped produce or preserve tens of thousands of affordable homes in New England. Developments financed with 4% credits often serve households with extremely low incomes, and these credits have also been used on mixed-income developments, helping to meet overall demand for market rate housing while providing rents that households with lower incomes can afford. Tax-exempt bonds are also used for reduced interest mortgages for first time homebuyers.
Eliminates the New Markets Tax Credit, a vital resource for community revitalization efforts in distressed areas. In Massachusetts, projects supported by the New Markets Tax Credit include community health centers, Boys & Girls Clubs, the Dudley Municipal Center in Boston, and a grocery store in Brockton. Housing and community development investments work together in revitalizing neighborhoods. Neither investment can do it alone.
Eliminates the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit, which has had a great impact on the Commonwealth's Gateway Cities, including Lowell, Haverhill, Fall River, and Worcester. This credit attracts developers to invest in once vacant, deteriorated, and underutilized structures, such as old mills, schools, and hospitals, and transforms them into much needed housing and commercial space. Hundreds of historic and iconic buildings in Massachusetts have been returned to use, creating homes, having direct and indirect economic benefits, and resulting in tens of millions in new local tax revenues.
Reforms the Mortgage Interest Deduction, which has been a long-standing effort of housing advocates and would ordinarily be a major step in the right direction. Unfortunately, the tax proposal uses the resulting savings to pay for tax cuts, not to fund new investments in affordable housing.
Increases the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion, putting immense pressure on lawmakers in future years to make massive cuts to programs benefiting low- and moderate-income people, include federal housing programs.
The New England Housing Network, a broad coalition of housing and community development organizations from across New England, was formed in 1995 to fight dramatic changes in federal housing policy, including funding cutbacks, program changes, and the devolution of responsibilities to state agencies. Together, we have worked on joint research and public policy activities; sponsored major annual regional conferences; and have had a significant impact on preserving key federal housing programs amid unprecedented budget-cutting pressures. The lead Network agency in each state is: Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (Massachusetts), the Connecticut Housing Coalition, Housing Action New Hampshire, HousingWorks RI, the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition, and the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition.
Citizens' Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA) is the leading statewide housing policy and research organization in Massachusetts. Established in 1967, CHAPA represents all interests in the housing field, including non-profit and for-profit developers, advocates, homeowners, tenants, lenders, property managers, government officials, and others. This year, CHAPA is celebrating 50 years of leadership in promoting solutions to critical housing and homelessness issues across the state.