Cantwell, DelBene Legislation Would Build Affordable Housing Units in Washington State

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As thousands of Washingtonians experience increasing housing insecurity and communities around the state face affordable housing shortages and high levels of homelessness, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and U.S. Representative Suzan DelBene (D, WA-01) have introduced legislation to increase investment in affordable housing, build tens of thousands of new affordable units around the state, and provide more resources and stronger protections for at-risk groups.
 
“The State of Washington has an affordable housing crisis, and our experiences are all too familiar for so many communities in every state around the country,” Cantwell said. “Too many people are paying too much money to keep a roof over their heads, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made the crisis worse. This bill will strengthen and expand our nation’s most successful federal housing program to build more than 66,000 new affordable units around our state and more than two million nationwide over ten years. We know this program works. Now is a critical time to invest in it to fight back against our affordable housing crisis and make sure we’re not leaving families behind.”
 
“Our nation's need for more affordable housing is at an all-time high because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress should leverage the proven success of the Housing Credit to build more affordable housing units that will help more families find a safe place to call home," said DelBene. "This legislation has earned the support of a bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives in the past. Now it's time to get it over the finish line and increase affordable housing production across the country."
 
In recent years, Washington state has experienced a severe housing affordability crisis. Between 2006 and 2015, the median income in the state increased three percent, but the median rent increased by 18%. Nearly 230,000 Washington households pay more than half of their monthly income on rent. Among extremely low-income renters in the state, 68% pay more half or more of their monthly income on rent.
 
These trends were further exacerbated by COVID-19, as thousands of Washingtonians faced a loss of work, while rent prices for affordable housing units mostly remained steady or even increased during the pandemic.
 
The Low Income Housing Tax Credit is the country’s most successful affordable housing program. Since its creation, it has built or rehabilitated more than 3.5 million affordable housing units—nearly 90 percent of all federally-funded affordable housing during that time. Roughly eight million American households have benefitted from the credit, and its activity has supported 5.5 million jobs and generated more than $617 billion in wages.
 

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