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King introduces bill to address nationwide housing crisis

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(The Center Square) – A bipartisan bill that would help address Maine’s affordable housing crisis has been introduced in the U.S. Senate.

The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act would work to create almost 2 million affordable homes across the country and thousands in Maine, Independent Sen. Angus King said. The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit would be expanded under the bill, allowing more homes for low-income people.

Under the bill, small businesses would be supported in attracting workers while filling the more than 20,000 affordable housing units needed to close the housing gap.

“There’s one law that Congress can’t repeal: the law of supply and demand,” King said in a statement. “With Maine people struggling to find places to live that fit their budget, it’s clear we need to quickly expand the supply of affordable housing. The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act would build on the success of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit to create millions of new affordable housing units in the communities that need them the most.

“It’s a bipartisan, common sense effort to help families find housing that fits their budget. The bill is an important step to address the housing shortages facing the country, and I hope we can get it passed quickly for the benefit of families, small businesses, and entire communities.”

The tax credits, according to a release, would allow state and local agencies to secure, rehabilitate, or construct rental properties and make them readily available to low-income residents.

The credit has benefited more than 3.5 million housing units, according to a release, as more than 5.5 million jobs were created to construct housing.

Maine has 51 homes for every 100 renters, according to a release, that are designated as low-income residents. Of the state’s renters, 58% are paying more than half of their incomes on rent. Plus, small businesses have cited the affordable housing gap as the biggest hurdle in attracting employees.

“We are delighted that Senator King is supporting the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act,” Rebecca Hatfield, president and chief executive officer of Avesta Housing, said in a statement.

Hatfield said that expanding and improving the tax credit would produce “thousands of safe, quality, affordable homes” that otherwise would not be constructed.

According to a release, estimates reflect that 2,300 more jobs would be generated if the bill became law and would generate more than $256 million in wages.

If enacted, the bill would increase the number of credits made available to states by 50% in the next two years and make a 2018 increase of 12.5% permanent. That increase has already created more than 59,000 affordable homes nationwide.

Financing for workforce housing projects would be stabilized under the bill that would use private activity bonds to decrease the amount of those bonds needed to secure housing credit funding. More projects would then carry less debt if enacted.

The bill, if enacted, also would work to improve the housing credit program to serve veterans, victims of domestic violence, formerly homeless students, Native American communities, and rural residents.

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