Thursday, June 16, 2016

Giving Due Credit: Balancing Priorities in State Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Allocation Policies

by Michael Spotts, Enterprise Community Partners
On June 6, the Enterprise Policy Development & Research team released its latest report on efforts to balance cost control with building quality and resident opportunity in affordable housing, Giving Due Credit: Balancing Priorities in State Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Allocation Policies.

Over the last year, Enterprise reviewed the Qualified Allocation Plans (QAPs) for the Housing Credit allocating agency in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, New York City and the U.S. territories. The research identified leading practices for the cost-effective production and preservation of affordable housing that is well-located, durable, sustainable, and connected to good schools, jobs, transit and health care. The report also addresses the impact of cost-related measures on affirmatively furthering fair housing, through efforts to both revitalize distressed communities and build affordable homes in neighborhoods of opportunity.

Giving Due Credit examines overall approaches to managing the Housing Credit program as well as specific provisions, incentives and tools. It also discusses the numerous options and trade-offs that policy makers and housing developers face, as well as examples of where specific incentives and provisions can have unintended effects on ostensibly unrelated priorities.

Based on this analysis, Giving Due Credit offers the following broad recommendations:

  • Agencies should consider the cumulative impact of QAP provisions on costs and quality.
  • Point-based incentives and weighting should be structured so that no single provision is effectively mandatory.
  • Cost and subsidy limits should reflect differences in development type and location.
  • Cost, design and construction standards should account for and encourage long-term savings.
  • Funding sources and regulatory compliance should be coordinated and streamlined.
  • Agencies should encourage innovation through the use of pilot initiatives.
  • Progress toward agency goals should be measured and the results disseminated.

Enterprise works with partners nationwide to build opportunity, creating and advocating for affordable homes in thriving communities linked to good schools, jobs, transit and health care. Enterprise lends funds, finances development and manages and builds affordable housing, while shaping new strategies, solutions and policy. Over more than 30 years, Enterprise has created nearly 358,000 homes, invested nearly $23.4 billion and improved millions of lives.

Michael is a senior analyst and project manager on Enterprise's Policy Development & Research team, where he conducts research and analysis of affordable housing and community development policies, and manages Enterprise’s federal transit-oriented development policy activities.

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