Farmhouse Affordability—Do Tax Credits Help?

Low-income rural families are benefiting from housing tax credits, a report shows.

by Dani YokhnaAugust 13, 2013
A newly released report on low-income housing tax credits shows that more rural families have access to affordable housing. Photo courtesy iStockphoto/Thinkstock (
Courtesy iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Today, a comprehensive report on the impact of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit on rural communities was released, which indicates rural families are gaining access to affordable housing. The report, “The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit: Overcoming Barriers to Affordable Housing in Rural America,” was prepared by Rapoza Associates, a lobbying and government relations firm specializing in federal community development policy, in partnership with five members of the National Rural Housing Coalition. The in-depth analysis of the impact of LIHTC in rural communities comes at a time when members of Congress are drilling down on the idea of tax reform.

“This report, which includes 37 case studies, offers a wide-ranging look at how the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit helps rural communities overcome high rates of poverty and substandard housing to provide access to affordable housing in our nation’s rural communities,” says Peter Carey, NRHC board member and president and CEO of Self-Help Enterprises in Visalia, Calif., an organization dedicated to self-help housing, sewer and water development, and housing rehab for farm laborers and low-income families. “As our country looks for ways to improve our tax policy, we need to preserve programs that work. The data and outcomes in this report demonstrate the effectiveness of LIHTC, which we hope will help inform policymakers as they proceed with tax reform efforts.”

Low-Income Housing Tax Credit is the largest source of federal housing funding and is the principal tool used by rural communities to overcome barriers to affordable rental housing. Today’s report notes that more than 7.3 million rural families live in housing with at least one major affordability, quality or crowding issue. The report goes on to document the success of the credit in preserving and developing more than 270,000 rental units since its inception in 1986. As a consequence of its activity in rural communities, the tax credit has created 1.15 million jobs, generated $86.9 billion in local income, and increased state and local tax revenue by $67.8 billion.

Overall, LIHTC accounts for about 50 percent of all NRHC financing to build or preserve affordable rental housing in rural America.

“LIHTC has generated billions of dollars in private-sector investments to struggling rural communities and must continue to be a centerpiece of federal tax and housing policy,” says Bob Rapoza, president of Rapoza Associates and a 30-year veteran of housing policy who serves as the NRHC executive secretary.  “The report shows that LIHTC helps improve the quality and quantity of affordable housing in small towns and farming communities across America.”

Since 1986, LIHTC has generated nearly $100 billion of investments into rural and urban communities alike by fostering private-public partnerships. Under the program, housing developers raise the capital needed to build or preserve affordable rental housing by selling the tax credit to investors who can then claim the credit to offset their federal tax liability.

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