White House Recommends Policies to Increase Affordable Housing

2024 Economic Report of the President & Council of Economic Advisers

The White House Council of Economic Advisers released a report yesterday on policies to boost the supply of affordable rental and ownership units—proposals that could form the foundation of a housing push during a second Biden term. (2024 Economic Report of the President and New York Times, March 21)

Zoning Reform, LIHTC

  • The report explains that the federal government could reduce exclusionary zoning via grants and other spending, and directly subsidize affordable unit construction through programs like the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC). The report adds, “Ultimately, meaningful change will require State and local governments to reevaluate the land-use regulations that reduce the housing supply.”

Addressing Equity

  • The Council’s report addresses how increasing the housing supply could increase access and equity for groups with few financial resources, increase overall wealth, and reduce disparities across groups. (Page 163 of the Annual Report of the Council of Economic Advisers)
  • The report notes that exclusionary zoning policies, such as prohibitions on multifamily homes, are a “subset of local land-use regulations that can constrain the housing supply and thus decrease affordability.”

This week, President Biden also spoke in Las Vegas about his plans to “establish an innovative program to help communities build and renovate housing or convert housing from empty office spaces into housing, empty hotels into housing.” (White House remarks, March 19 and Roundtable Weekly, March 15)

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White House Focuses on Affordable Housing Policy Proposals

This week President Biden and his top economic advisor previewed a new Housing Innovation Fund and forthcoming proposals to encourage additional housing development. The White House’s focus on affordable housing confirmed it will be a top administration priority as the presidential election season picks up momentum. (Politico, March 14)

Administration’s Housing Remarks

  • Following his March 6 State of the Union address, which addressed new tax incentives for homebuyers and an expansion of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), President Biden spoke this week about other aspects of his housing plan. (Roundtable Weekly, March 8 | White House Fact Sheets: Budget, March 11 and Housing, March 7)
  • Biden stated during comments at the National League of Cities, “The federal budget that I’m releasing today has a plan for 2 million more affordable homes, including housing — a housing innovation fund to help communities like yours build housing, renovate housing, and convert empty office space and hotels into housing. The bottom line is we have to build, build, build. That’s how we bring housing costs down for good.” (White House transcript and C-Span video, March 11)

New Initiatives

White House National Economic Advisor Lael Brainard
  • White House National Economic Advisor Lael Brainard, above, also addressed the president’s housing proposals this week. “While tax credits are a proven way to boost supply, it is also vital to support the efforts of governors, county executives, and mayors who are pioneering new approaches that can be scaled. That’s why the president is proposing a new $20 billion Innovation Fund for Housing Expansion to help communities expand their housing supply,” Brainard remarked. (White House transcript, March 12)
  • Brainard also previewed forthcoming administration housing policies. “In the months ahead, we will take further action– from supporting communities in identifying and removing barriers to housing production to promoting the use of federal resources for conversions from office to residential,” Brainard said. (Urban Institute video of speech and interview, March 12)
  • She confirmed that “the centerpiece of the president’s Plan is an expansion of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) that would produce or preserve 1.2 million affordable units over the next decade.” (HousingWire, March 12)

During a Senate Banking hearing on March 12 on Housing Affordability, Availability, and Other Community Needs, bipartisan support was also expressed for expanding the LIHTC—a policy strongly supported by The Roundtable. (Roundtable Weekly, March 1 and Feb. 16)

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President Biden Proposes New Housing Incentives, Increased Taxes on Wealthy Individuals and Public Corporations

President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address last night included proposals to levy a 25 percent minimum tax on wealthy individuals, increase the corporate tax rate from 21 to 28 percent, and raise the alternative minimum tax on large corporations from 15 to 21 percent. He also called on Congress to pass legislation to support the construction or rehabilitation of more than 2 million homes and rolled out new tax incentives for homebuyers. (Biden’s Remarks | White House Fact Sheets on Taxes and Housing, March 7)

Proposed Tax Increases

  • Biden proposed to levy a 25 percent minimum tax on those with wealth of more than $100 million. He committed to not raising taxes on those making $400,000 or less while heavily criticizing the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) as a $2 trillion giveaway to high-income households and corporations. (Tax Policy Center | Forbes, March 8)
  • Most of the Biden tax agenda is carried over from his prior budgets and includes provisions that he was unable to pass when Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress. While not detailed in his speech, the White House’s upcoming 2025 budget could include past proposals to raise taxes on real estate like-kind exchanges and carried interest income. (Roundtable Weekly, March 10, 2023)
  • Many provisions from the 2017 tax bill will expire at the end of 2025, including the 20 percent deduction for pass-through business income, the cap on the deductibility of state and local taxes, and the reduction in the top individual tax rate from 39.6 to 37 percent. The approaching expiration of the individual provisions creates a tax “cliff” that is likely to drive tax negotiations next year.

Housing Plan

Real Estate coalition  response to President Biden's SOTU housing proposals.
Real estate coalition response to President Biden’s SOTU housing proposals.
  • The White House’s Fact Sheet on housing describes the administration’s plans to establish new tax credits for first-time homebuyers and individuals who sell their starter homes. The tax credit for home sellers seeks to address the “lock-in” effect associated with current high interest rates.The president would also increase spending on affordable housing by Federal Home Loan Banks. (PoliticoPro and White House Fact Sheet on Housing, March 7)
  • The White House Fact Sheet also includes an expansion of the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) to support an additional 1.2 million affordable rental units and a new Neighborhood Homes Tax Credit to encourage the construction or preservation of over 400,000 affordable, owner-occupied homes. Bipartisan legislation to expand LIHTC passed the House in January and is pending in the Senate.
  • The National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) and nine industry groups responded to the negative aspects of Biden’s housing plan. A coalition letter explained how proposals to limit fee for service arrangements would hurt renters by undermining the administration’s objectives of lowering housing costs, driving new housing development, and creating more affordable rental housing. President Biden has also supported Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission investigations into rental rate fixing—investigations that many in the industry believe are highly questionable. (NMHC statement and real estate coalition letter, March 7)

Funding Watch

  • After the House passed a spending package this week to fund several federal agencies through September, the Senate has until midnight tonight to pass the bill and avoid a partial government shutdown.
  • Approval from all 100 senators is necessary to fast track the process. The consideration of multiple amendments could delay a final vote until Saturday, necessitating a temporary funding extension to avoid disruption and get the final bill to President Biden for his signature. (The Hill, March 8)

The next government funding deadline is March 22, which requires a new spending package to fund the Pentagon, Health and Human Services, Labor, and other agencies. Policymakers agreed on this two-tiered stopgap funding plan (March 8 and 22) to buy time to negotiate a full-year appropriations bill. (Roundtable Weekly, March 1)

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Roundtable and Housing Affordability Coalition Urge Senate to Pass Tax Package

Housing Affordability Coalition logos

This week, The Real Estate Roundtable and 21 other industry organizations urged the Senate to pass a tax package that was approved by the House in an overwhelming bipartisan vote (357-70) on Jan. 31. (Coalition letter, Feb. 15)

Tax Provisions in the Senate

  • The Housing Affordability Coalition’s letter to all Senators emphasized the importance of advancing provisions in The Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024 (H.R. 7024) that strengthen the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC)—along with various real estate investment measures that would benefit families, workers, and the national economy.
  • The coalition noted how the bill would increase the supply of housing as a positive response to the nation’s housing affordability crisis. It would also suspend certain tax increases on business investment that took effect in 2022 and 2023. 
  • The Feb. 15 letter focused on details of the bill’s provisions that positively impact the LIHTC, deductibility of business interest, bonus depreciation, and small business expensing.
  • The Roundtable also joined the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) and a large coalition of housing and other real estate groups in a Jan. 26 letter to Congress in support of the tax package. That letter also focused on the bill’s important improvements to the LIHTC, which will significantly increase the construction and rehabilitation of affordable housing over the next three years.

Congressional Timing

U.S. Capitol building
  • Senate Republicans considering the House tax package have called for an amendment process that would be time consuming. (The Hill, Feb. 2)
  • With Congress in recess until the last week of February, there will be limited legislative vehicles available the bill could ride on, just days before a set of government funding deadlines hit on March 1 and 8. The best chances the package could have for inclusion in other legislation include a potential funding bill to prevent an early March government shutdown or a bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration on March 8.
  • If the tax package is pushed beyond March, it may not be considered until a lame duck session after what is expected to be a contentious election season.

SALT Reform Pinched

  • On Feb. 14, a procedural rule to advance the SALT Marriage Penalty Elimination Act (H.R. 7160) to a floor vote in the House fell short of a majority vote needed to pass.
  • The effort by House lawmakers to double the $10,000 cap on state-and-local tax deductions (SALT) for married couples earning up to $500,000 failed by a vote of 195-225. (RollCall and CQ, Feb. 14)

The tax package (H.R. 7024) passed by the House last month did not address the SALT cap, which led to this week’s consideration of a separate reform measure. The current SALT cap is scheduled to expire at the end of 2025, along with many other measures passed as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017.

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Policymakers Emphasize Affordable Housing Incentives, Increasing Supply 

Three U.S. Senators discussed national housing policy with industry leaders and Roundtable members during this week’s State of the Industry (SOI) meeting. (See Meeting agenda)

Need for Housing Incentives

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)
  • Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) discussed the importance of expanding and extending the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), which was included in a tax package advanced by the House Ways and Means Committee last week by a vote of 40-3. Sen. Wyden negotiated the $77 billion bill with Ways and Means Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) and commended the overwhelming margin of bipartisan support in the committee vote. (Roundtable Weekly, Jan. 19)
Housing Panel at RER's 2024 State of the Industry Meeting.  Moderator Kathleen McCarthy, Blackstone
  • Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), center, discussed what can be done to address U.S. housing challenges with Kathleen McCarthy, left, (Chair-Elect, The Real Estate Roundtable | Global Co-Head of Real Estate, Blackstone), and Shaun Donovan, right, (CEO and President, Enterprise Community Partners |former HUD Secretary and OMB Director). Sen. Hassan spoke about the urgent need for national policy to encourage development of more workforce housing, while Mr. Donovan noted the congressional tax bill under consideration would create 200,000 new affordable housing units.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) at RER's 2024 State of the Industry meeting
  • Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)– introduced by Roundtable Chair Emeritus (2012-2015) Robert Taubman (Chairman, President & CEO, Taubman Centers, Inc.) – spoke about legislative efforts to revitalize downtowns. Sen. Stabenow referred to the recent tax package as an encouraging development for affordable housing, yet noted how more is needed to incentivize conversions of commercial properties to multifamily use. Stabenow is an original co-sponsor of the Revitalizing Downtowns Act (H.R. 4759) to encourage adaptive use of older buildings.

Housing policy and incentives advocated by The Roundtable to encourage more affordable housing supply are topics weaved throughout RER’s 2024 Policy Priorities. (See Executive Summary)

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Roundup: Lawmakers Seek Action on Affordable Housing Incentives, Senators Push Treasury for EV Recharging Station Guidance, and Joint Tax Committee Releases Long-Awaited “Bluebook”

House Ways and Means Committee members sent a bipartisan letter to House Leadership last Friday urging consideration of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (H.R. 3238) in any potential tax legislation brought to the floor in 2024. (Letter, Dec. 15)

AHCIA Provisions

  • Since the introduction of H.R. 3238 in May, the bill has garnered strong bipartisan support with 200 cosponsors—100 Republicans and 100 Democrats. (summary of AHCIA)
  • Representatives Darin LaHood (R-IL), Suzan DelBene (D-WA) and others wrote to House leadership urging inclusion of two key changes to the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) in any tax legislation that emerges (Tax Notes, Dec. 15):
  • Restoring the 12.5% increase in state allocation of housing credits that expired at the end of 2021, and
  • Lowering the threshold of private activity bond financing (currently 50%) that a project must meet in order to qualify for the maximum amount of 4% housing credits. 
  • The competitive and over-subscribed LIHTC program is a critical federal tool for addressing the widespread lack of affordable rental housing. The arbitrary 50% bond financing requirement creates a barrier to affordable housing production, especially for the growing number of states that fully utilize their private activity bond cap. (Roundtable Weekly, May 19)

Senators Push Treasury to Finalize Rules for EV Recharging Infrastructure Incentives

  • The Roundtable previously submitted detailed comments seeking guidance requesting greater clarity for real estate owners and others contemplating new investments in EV recharging stations.
  • The Inflation Reduction Act generally limits the credit to facilities installed in rural or low-income census tracts. The letter encourages Treasury to adopt an inclusive definition that effectively covers any tract if 10 percent or more of the “census blocks” inside the tract are rural. 
  • The Senators’ letter includes other requests that align with the Roundtable’s comments and aims to help the administration realize its goal of deploying 500,000 chargers by 2030. For example, the Senators urge that the rules treat each port at a refueling property as a “single item” that effectively qualifies for its own credit.

Joint Tax Committee Releases “Bluebook” Describing Recent Tax Laws

Joint Committee on Taxation logo
  • On Friday, Congress’s nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation released its long-awaited explanation of recently enacted tax laws.
  • The so-called “JCT Bluebook” is often relied upon by Treasury officials and federal courts when implementing and interpreting tax statutes. 

Congress reconvenes in Washington the week of January 8, where they will face a fast-approaching deadline for fiscal year 2024 spending bills and additional priorities, including a tax package.

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Senate Finance Committee Chair Aims to Include Workforce Housing Tax Incentive in 2024 Tax Package

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)

The Roundtable and 12 other national real estate organizations wrote to congressional tax writers on Dec. 8 in strong support of the Workforce Housing Tax Credit (WHTC) Act (S. 3436), which would create a new tax incentive aimed at increasing the supply of moderate-income rental housing. The Senate’s top tax writer, Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR), above, said this week that there is a “real window of opportunity” to pass bipartisan housing legislation in the coming months that could be folded into a possible 2024 tax package. (WHTC bill summary, Dec. 7 | Coalition letter, Dec. 8 | Wyden’s Senate floor remarks, Dec. 12 | Tax Notes, Dec. 13)

Affordable Housing Tax Credits

  • Sen. Wyden told Tax Notes that housing tax credits “will be part of the discussions we’ll have to have” with House Ways and Means Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) as they discuss elements for a possible tax package in the new year.
  • The Senate Finance Committee Chairman also commented on the Senate floor about his introduction last week of the WHTC Act (S. 3436) with Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AL), Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) and Rep. Mike Carey (R-OH). “Our bipartisan proposal, based largely on the success of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) would help spur a juggernaut of new housing construction,” Wyden said. (Video of floor remarks | Roundtable Weekly, Dec. 8)
  • Led by the National Multifamily Housing Council, the Dec. 8 industry coalition letter stated, “We believe that the Workforce Housing Tax Credit Act will only serve to complement the LIHTC.” The organizations emphasized that the WHTC would spur the development of housing targeted to renter households who face affordability challenges yet are ineligible for federal subsidies.


  • The WHTC would build on the successful LIHTC by enabling state housing agencies to issue similar tax credits to developers for the construction or rehabilitation of income-capped rental housing. (One-page Senate Finance Committee summary and WHTC bill text)
  • WHTC credits could be used to build affordable housing for tenants between 60% and 100% of the area median income, or transferred to the State’s LIHTC allocation for housing aimed at lower-income tenants (generally below 60% of area median income). (Congressional Research Service summary of the LIHTC, April 26)
  • Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer stated, “Tax policy should support and encourage private sector investment that boosts the supply of affordable and workforce housing. The Workforce Housing Tax Credit Act would build on time-tested tax incentives like the low-income housing tax credit and further facilitate the conversion of underutilized, existing buildings to housing. We welcome this positive step forward for our nation’s housing supply.” (Roundtable Weekly, Dec. 8)
  • In the House this week, Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-CA), reintroduced the Rent Relief Act of 2023, which would create a new tax credit for renters of a personal residence to cover part of the gap between 30 percent of their income and actual rent. Tax Notes, Dec. 13)

Rep. Gomez told Tax Notes this week that House tax writers hope to include the rent relief bill, along with Gomez’ Revitalizing Downtowns Act (H.R. 419) in bipartisan discussions about a potential tax package. H.R. 419 would provide an investment tax credit for 20 percent of the cost of converting office buildings to other uses.  (Rep. Gomez news releases, July 28 and Dec. 12 | news release, Dec. 12 | Roundtable Weekly, Aug. 11)

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Senate, House Bills Introduced to Spur Workforce Housing Development

Bills introduced yesterday in the Senate and House would create a new tax incentive aimed at increasing the supply of moderate-income rental housing. The legislation seeks to expand the construction and rehabilitation of housing for middle-class families and young people starting their careers, while enabling workers to live in communities where they are employed. (Senate Finance Committee news release and bill summary, Dec. 7)

Workforce Housing Tax Credit

  • Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, (D-OR) and Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AL), along with Reps. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) and Mike Carey (R-OH), introduced the bipartisan Workforce Housing Tax Credit (WHTC) Act to build on the successful Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) by enabling state housing agencies to issue tax credits to developers, which would subsequently be sold to investors. (1-page Senate Finance committee summary and WHTC bill text)
  • WHTC credits could be used to build affordable housing for tenants between 60% and 100% of area median income, or transferred to LIHTC for tenants generally below 60% of area median income. (Congressional Research Service summary of the LIHTC, April 26)
  • State housing finance agencies could allocate WHTC credits to developers through a competitive process. The tax credits could also be provided to developers with a 15-year compliance period and 30-year extended commitment.  (Committee summary)

Roundtable Support

  • The Roundtable strongly supports the WHTC. Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer stated, “Tax policy should support and encourage private sector investment that boosts the supply of affordable and workforce housing. The Workforce Housing Tax Credit Act would build on time-tested tax incentives like the low-income housing tax credit and further facilitate the conversion of underutilized, existing buildings to housing. We welcome this positive step forward for our nation’s housing supply.”

The Roundtable’s Real Estate Capital Policy Advisory Committee (RECPAC) has formed an Affordable Housing Working Group, which is working with the Research Committee to develop proposals on expanding the nation’s housing infrastructure.

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Biden Administration Announces Support for Financing Commercial to Residential Property Conversions

The Biden administration today revealed a suite of federal resources—including low-interest loans—to assist commercial to residential conversions that increase housing supply, revitalize urban downtowns, and cut climate pollution. (White House fact sheet; Bloomberg, Oct. 27).

Holistic Federal Strategy

  • Roundtable President and CEO, Jeffrey D. DeBoer said, “The pandemic’s indelible impact on where Americans live and work continues to reverberate through the real estate industry, which is at the center of this societal transition. The Roundtable supports innovative policy that reimagines the adaptive reuse of CRE, rejuvenates affordable housing and urban downtowns, and addresses the climate crisis. The guidance released by the White House today checks all these boxes—and bolsters our agenda to improve the health of our cities, local tax bases, and small businesses.”   
  • Among the actions announced today, conversion projects located near mass transit hubs would be eligible for low-interest financing under U.S. Department of Transportation programs. “TIFIA” and “RRIF” loans are pegged to US Treasuries at 5.03 percent interest (today’s rates).
  • Transit-oriented projects supported by TIFIA and RRIF financing do not require affordable housing units—although they can be “stacked” with projects supported by low-income housing tax credits and local laws may have independent inclusionary zoning mandates. (FAQs on project eligibility)
  • The White House announcement also directs the General Services Administration (GSA) to identify “surplus” federal properties that private developers may help to convert to housing.
  • A fact sheet summarizing the administration’s actions indicates that training workshops will be held this fall for real estate owners, developers, and lenders on how to use federal programs included in the White House’s new “Commercial to Residential Conversions” guidebook, which describes how 20 programs across six federal agencies can be used to support adaptive re-use projects.
  • The Administration’s guidebook also explains how mortgage insurance and grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) can leverage state, local, and private sector capital as layers in the capital stack to support adaptive reuse.

Adaptive Reuse a “Win-Win”

  • Real estate market conditions with high office vacancies “present[ ] an area of opportunity to increase housing supply while revitalizing Main Streets,” said National Economic Council Director Lael Brainerd. “It’s a win-win.” (POLITICOPro, Oct. 27) (WH Council of Economic Advisors blog post)
  • White House efforts to assist property conversions lands as national office vacancy stands at nearly 18 percent—with some major metro areas experiencing vacancies higher than one-fifth of their entire inventory—according to a report from  analytics firm Yardi Matrix released on Thursday. (Commercial Observer, Oct. 26)
  • Architectural firm Gensler released a report on Monday that estimates 25% of under-performing U.S. office properties are suitable candidates for conversion projects.

The initiative builds on the Biden Administration’s announcement last July to boost the nation’s housing supply. (Roundtable Weekly, July 28).  The Roundtable will continue to serve as a conduit between our members and the Biden Administration to help design impactful policies that can assist with office to residential conversions.

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Real Estate Industry Urges FHFA to Avoid Linking New Regulations to GSE Financing

FHFA logo

The Roundtable and an industry coalition recently submitted separate comments in response to a Request for Input from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) on multifamily properties with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises). The letters encourage the FHFA to remain focused on the Enterprises’ stated mission “to serve as a reliable source of liquidity and funding for housing finance and community investment.” The industry comments also raise concerns about the FHFA imposing counterproductive property restrictions, such as rent control, on multifamily properties backed by loans from the Enterprises. (Roundtable comments, July 28 and Industry coalition comments, July 31)

Industry Solutions

  • The Roundtable’s comments encouraged the FHFA—the regulator and conservator of the Enterprises—to focus on its pivotal role in America’s housing finance market by maintaining Enterprise support of the multifamily affordable housing market, particularly for low-income households. The letter noted that the imposition of counterproductive restrictions on Enterprise-backed financing and private rental housing providers would lead to less investment and development in the affordable housing market, especially during this time of market uncertainty.
  • The Roundtable letter expressed support for measures to:
    • Enhance the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC);
    • Support initiatives that explicitly tie federal funding of infrastructure and other federal funding for “green” initiatives to local assurances to improve exclusionary zoning;
    • Reduce regulatory costs, including a broad range of fees, standards and other requirements imposed at different stages of the development and construction process; and,
    • Stabilize the GSEs to ensure appropriate liquidity in mortgage markets.
  • The Roundtable’s July 28 letter also noted the important role of institutional investors as a source of capital for affordable housing. The comments emphasized how FHFA should not disincentivize this important source of capital for expanding the housing infrastructure.

Coalition Comments

FHFA RFI response coalition graphic

  • The real estate coalition’s July 31 letter reiterated that the best way to help the nation’s renters find affordable housing is to keep the Enterprises focused on financing housing creation. The real estate organizations note that rental housing is already a heavily regulated industry that should not be subject to a one-size-fits-all set of new “protections” that conflict with the unique housing needs of individual markets.  
  • National Multifamily Housing Council President Sharon Wilson Géno said, “When we have market dynamics like we do now, where we have really high interest rates and difficulty accessing capital, the GSEs are even more important. If they start putting mandatory restrictions and rent caps on their products, people are going to go back into that private market at higher cost, and that’s going to increase rent and decrease affordability.” (PoliticoPro, Aug. 1)

This week, Senate Banking Chair Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and 17 Senate Democrats also responded to the FHFA by supporting rent increase limits and other tenant measures on properties with federally backed loans from the GSEs. (Senate Banking Committee letter, Aug. 1)

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