Biden Administration Expands Low-Income Housing Financing and Provides More Flexibility to Affordable Housing Developers
The Biden administration on Oct. 7 announced several new federal agency actions aimed at closing the housing supply shortfall as part of its Housing Supply Action Plan, launched in May. (White House statement, Oct. 7 | Multi-Housing News, Oct. 10 | Roundtable Weekly, May 20)
The White House’s announcement focused on efforts to reduce barriers to affordable housing construction and preservation by:
- Finalizing Treasury rules that reform the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) income guidelines. The new rules provide greater flexibility to develop mixed-income housing, housing for very low-income tenants, and housing in sparsely populated rural areas. Specifically, the final regulations create an alternative means of complying with the rent restriction requirements of the LIHTC. The new rules allow owners to measure and average their tenants’ income based on a broader range of qualifying incomes (20 to 80 percent of the area median).
- Extending LIHTC deadlines to ensure that affordable housing projects delayed by public health, economic, and supply-chain issues can be built as expeditiously as possible and still qualify for the credit. (IRS Notice 2022-52)
- The Real Estate Roundtable has long supported well-designed, targeted tax incentives like the LIHTC that are aimed at boosting the construction and rehabilitation of badly needed affordable and workforce housing. (Roundtable 2022 Policy Agenda Tax Section)
Other Federal Actions Announced by the White House
- Reforming and streamlining Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s Forward Commitment programs, which allow developers to secure financing to pay off a construction loan when construction has been completed and the housing project has been approved for occupancy. Each GSE will be able to provide $3 billion in Forward Commitments per year—above and beyond the multifamily purchase cap.
- Enabling more affordable housing development and preservation with State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) under the American Rescue Plan. Treasury and the Department of Housing and Urban Development jointly published a “How-To” Guide to further encourage state and local governments to make use of these funds with other sources of federal funding.
- Promoting more housing options near transit and other modes of transportation, coordination of transportation and housing planning, and rewarding jurisdictions that have removed barriers to housing development.
- Increasing transportation investments that can connect and expand affordable housing supply. The Department of Transportation (DOT) has begun awarding grants for recipients where local governments are improving their transportation infrastructure and promoting a range of transportation, environmental, urban planning, and housing policy goals.
- DOT also announced “TIFIA 49,” which authorizes borrowing from the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program up to 49 percent of eligible costs for projects that meet eligibility requirements, an increase from 33 percent of eligible project costs.
Real Estate Views
- The National Multifamily Housing Council and National Apartment Association applauded the Biden administration’s plan. Their joint statement noted the U.S. needs to produce 4.3 million more apartments by 2035 to keep up with demand.
- Roundtable Member Willy Walker, above left, chairman and CEO of Walker and Dunlop, joined CNBC’s Squawk on the Street on Oct. 12 to discuss supply and demand challenges in the housing market, rent increases associated with inflation, and the consequence of banks pulling back loans from commercial real estate. (Watch video)
The Real Estate Roundtable’s Research Committee and Real Estate Capital Policy Advisory Committee (RECPAC) has formed an Affordable Housing Working Group, which is working on a report to address expansion of the nation’s housing infrastructure.
# # #