Why a new housing tax credit?
The Neighborhood Homes Investment Act is a national policy proposal to create a federal homeownership tax credit, which will provide a new stream of equity investment for developing and renovating 1-4 family housing in distressed urban, suburban, and rural neighborhoods.
In hundreds of communities throughout the country, neighborhood revitalization is being stymied by the "value gap" -- the situation in which the cost of rehabilitating or building a home is greater than the post-construction value of the home.
While the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) has provided an effective means of closing the development gaps in low-income, multi-family rental housing, there is no reliable reinvestment tool to close the value gap for our country’s declining 1-4 family housing stock even though this housing typology accounts for the greatest percentage of all residential structures in cities like Newark, Hartford, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Springfield, Detroit, Flint, Stockton, and Memphis.
The value gap contributes to three interrelated conditions that challenge urban prosperity:
Racial inequity - The lack of capital for reinvestment in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods has exacerbated racial inequities, in particular, the great disparity between African American family wealth and the family wealth of every other ethnic and racial group in America. As reinvestment-starved neighborhoods continue to decline, so do the assets of the families that own property within them.
Conversion of homeownership neighborhoods to absentee landlord neighborhoods - The dearth of reinvestment dollars for distressed, low-density neighborhoods creates a favorable environment for absentee owners/investors who convert aging homeownership housing to rental housing in once stabile owner-occupant neighborhoods. Poorly-maintained rental housing, owned by absentee landlord/investors, undermines quality of life and spurs declining property values in small and mid-sized cities across the country.
Blight, vacancy, and abandonment - In markets where the "numbers don't work" – e.g., it costs more to build or rehab a house than the property can be sold for – owners will walk away from homes that are no longer habitable and can't be refinanced or sold. Without a financing tool to close the value gap, even the most resourceful housing developers can not (and will not) be able to address the thousands of vacant R-1 zoned properties that burden distressed neighborhoods.
We estimate that each $1 billion in NHIA investment would result in the following impacts nationwide:
25,000 homes built or rehabilitated
$4.25 billion of total development activity
33,393 jobs in construction and construction-related industries
$1.82 billion in wages and salaries
$1.25 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenues and fees
In addition, this tax credit will improve property values, increase family wealth, decrease blight and abandonment in distressed neighborhoods, and create more and better options for shelter – all of which indirectly enhance multiple determinants of health and well-being for residents of these communities.