2017: Mid-year Update on Affordable Housing
As we discussed in January, 2017 is and has so far proven to be a critical year for affordable housing. The decisions made by President Trump and his administration will have a significant impact on the housing market with important resources at risk, such as the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program. On the municipal level, Mayor Walsh’s Imagine Boston 2030 plan and the Community Preservation Act are two timely initiatives that could greatly benefit the local affordable housing landscape. As we hit the half-year mark, here are a few of the important topics we are watching:
- President Trump’s proposed budget could severely impact the LIHTC, which is a federal program that issues tax credits to state housing agencies. For example, in Massachusetts, the Department of Housing and Community Development is the allocating agency for tax credits. The Department awards these credits to developers, who then seek investors to help pay for their projects. A proposed slash to the corporate tax rate has already weakened the program and, as noted recently in the Washington Post, “The result has been a drop of at least 10 percent since the election in the $14 billion of private money invested annually in the Low-Income Housing Tax Credits program.” This will have detrimental effects on the state of affordable housing nationally, because it hinders developers’ ability to move forward with the financing of affordable housing projects.
- We have closely followed Mayor Walsh’s Imagine Boston 2030 plan, which promises to develop 53,000 new units of housing over the next 10 years. This year, Mayor Walsh has released draft plans, which detail how Boston will increase housing supply, implement beneficial tools and policies (like the inclusionary development policy), reduce displacement through the formation of the Office of Housing Stability, and partner with neighboring municipalities to identify regional solutions to preserve affordability. Most recently, it was announced that the plan is almost done and, this week he will unveil the final Imagine Boston 2030 plan.
- Since the adoption of the Community Preservation Act in November, we have been eagerly awaiting next steps. This year, conversations have started around the selection of the Community Preservation Committee, which will be responsible for researching and identifying community needs and opportunities, in coordination with local municipal boards; reviewing, selecting and recommending community project proposals for consideration by local legislators; and keeping budgetary records. While no decisions have been made yet, we look forward to the selection process of a group that will be crucial to furthering Boston’s housing goals. We hope for a diverse group that represents all sectors of the city, including Latinos.