On August 1, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the “Housing, Opportunity, Mobility, and Equity (HOME) Act” (S.3342). This bill would provide a refundable tax credit to households who spend more than 30% of their income on rent. The credit amount would be based on a calculation that takes into consideration annual rent and annual income.
This bill would also create a statutory framework to encourage municipalities to have a “strategy to increase the affordable housing stock.” Under the bill, in order to receive Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), grantees would have to include in their plans and reports strategies to support “new inclusive zoning policies… that create a more affordable, elastic, and diverse housing supply” and progress on implementation.
The bill outlines a menu of best practices that communities can adopt. These practices include, among others,
- Reduce barriers to housing development, including affordable housing.
- Authorizing high-density and multifamily zoning.
- Eliminating off-street parking.
- Establishing density bonuses.
- Removing height limitations.
- Prohibiting source of income discrimination.
- Relaxing lot size restrictions.
- Allowing accessory dwelling units.
The introduction of this incentive based structure to receive CDBG funds comes at a critical time for fair housing as HUD this past May suspended, indefinitely, the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule. The AFFH rule would have required CDBG grantees to submit an Assessment of Fair Housing as part of their AFFH duty. The HOME Act would in effect reestablish as a condition to receiving CDBG funds that communities take meaningful actions to overcome patterns of segregation and foster inclusive communities free from barriers that restrict access to opportunity.