Delegation Hails Increased Affordable Housing Production Resulting From New Biden Administration Guidance

(THURSDAY, Aug. 11, 2022) - Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Representative Peter Welch (D-VT) applauded the Biden Administration’s announcement that it removed barriers to states and localities investing American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars in new housing.

The new guidance will make it easier to build affordable housing by allowing states and local governments to make long-term housing loans with ARPA funds. This change opens up access to Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, a key source of funding for affordable housing production. The change reflects the intent of the bi-partisan, bi-cameral LIFELINE Act introduced by Senators Leahy and Sanders in the Senate and cosponsored by Representative Welch in the House.

Leahy, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, said: “When Vermont’s affordable housing partners said there were significant barriers to using ARPA dollars for housing production, I knew something needed to change. Too many Vermonters struggle to find a home in their community that is safe and affordable. Allowing ARPA dollars to flow into building affordable housing as long-term loans will simplify the financing of affordable housing production and ultimately result in more homes for more Vermonters.”

“Today, in Vermont and across the country, we are facing nothing short of a crisis in affordable housing,” said Sen. Sanders. “Parents can’t find an affordable place to raise their kids. Working people, older Vermonters, and people living on fixed incomes know they simply cannot afford food, heat, transportation, health care, prescription drugs, education, child care, and other basic human necessities when more than half of their income is going to pay rent or the mortgage. As Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, I was proud to pass the American Rescue Plan – one of the most significant pieces of legislation to benefit working families in the modern history of this country – and to ensure that the U.S. Department of the Treasury released the funds from that law into our local communities as quickly and effectively as possible. It is great news that after a year of hard work, Treasury is taking new steps to enable these funds to be used for long-term loans for the construction of new affordable housing. This important change will go a long way in improving and creating new housing stock, which is absolutely critical if we are going to be successful in ensuring that every Vermonter has a safe, decent, accessible, and affordable place to call home.”

Representative Welch said: “Far too many families in our state have struggled to find secure and affordable housing. This new guidance from Treasury will allow our state to use American Rescue Plan funding to build more affordable housing units across the state, making it easier for families to find housing that meets their needs, and curbing the affordable housing crisis. This is a critical step for folks in Vermont and across the United States. “  

Nationwide, states and local governments have budgeted $4.2 billion through the ARPA State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund for affordable housing production and preservation. Vermont plans to invest $119 million in federal dollars received through APRA to build homes for Vermonters shut out of the state’s increasingly tight housing market. By loosening restrictions and allowing ARPA dollars to leverage tax credits, the new guidance will help to attract 30% more equity into affordable housing production resulting in over 150 additional homes produced for vulnerable Vermonters. Nationwide, this change, led by Vermont advocates and the State’s congressional delegation, will increase the number of homes built helping communities recover from pandemic shortages.  

Gus Seelig, Executive Director of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board that oversees the investment of the federal housing dollars, said: “Vermont and affordable housing developers across the country owe a great thanks to our congressional delegation for introducing the LIFELINE Act and working effectively with the Treasury to revise guidance to allow the efficient use of ARPA funds with the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program.  Vermont faces the most severe shortage of housing it has seen in the last 40 years. The additional capital raised will free up essential funding to build homes in communities across the state.”

The LIFELINE Act (LIHTC Financing Enabling Long-term Investments in Neighborhood Excellence) was introduced in May by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Angus King (I-Maine), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). The bi-partisan, bi- cameral bill was introduced in the House by Alma Adams (D-NC-12) and David Rouzer (R-NC-7) and cosponsored by Representative Welch. The legislation was drafted in coordination with the Treasury Department and supported by ninety-seven housing stakeholders nationwide. The changes published by Treasury reflect those proposed by the sponsors of the LIFELINE Act.