The Nov. 30 editorial “A tax gift to the rich” rightly called for fairer federal housing investment. Our nation provides generous benefits to the wealthiest homeowners while providing inadequate rental housing assistance to low-income families who need help the most. Families earning more than $200,000 a year receive on average four times the federal housing benefits received by families who earn less than $20,000 annually.
Meanwhile, our rental housing crisis is getting worse. Nearly half of all renters and nearly all extremely low-income households use more than 30 percent of their incomes to pay rent. The shortage of affordable rental housing primarily affects those younger than 25, the elderly, people with disabilities and low-income families.
Congress should immediately curb the mortgage-interest deduction. My bill, the Common Sense Housing Investment Act, would convert the mortgage interest deduction into a 15 percent flat-rate tax credit on interest on mortgages of up to $500,000. A tax credit would extend a tax benefit to 16 million homeowners who do not itemize their taxes.
My proposal would provide more than $200 billion to address the national rental shortage by putting new revenue in proven housing investments through expanding the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, Section 8 rental assistance and the public housing capital fund and provide permanent funding to build more affordable rental housing through the National Housing Trust Fund.
Keith Ellison, Washington
The writer, a Democrat, represents Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District in the House.