UPDATE: 2012 Housing Opportunity Convening and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit

In late November, the Ford Foundation convened experts from three fields— civil rights, affordable housing, and community development— to share research and thoughts about securing housing opportunities for all Americans.

Joe Recchie, of Praxia Partners, attended. “As we met on the main floor assembly space of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, I felt honored to be included in the dialogue and truly reverential of the many practitioners I knew have dedicated their lives to social justice,” Recchie explained.

Over 30 speakers and over 50 attendees discussed in housing opportunities, much of which focused on the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit.

For 25 years, the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) has been the main instrument used by opportunity housing advocates.

  • As of 2012, about $2.4 billion of housing has been built making use of the highly-competitive credit.
  • The way the LIHTC is administered varies state by state but it is often complex, restrictive, and requires long lead times.
  • According to LISC, “90 percent of the development of all affordable housing is financed through the tax credit.” Furthermore, “In 2010, 50 percent of all multifamily housing starts were financed through the Housing Credit program.”
  • Nationally, around 70,000 housing units are created or rehabilitated each year using the LIHTC.

The Housing Opportunity Convening also provided examples of successfully using resources outside the framework of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, including:

  • Doug Shoemaker, of the Bay Area LISC, discussed the Mortgage Resolution Group, which is trying to buy pools of mortgages before they go into foreclosure in order to directly and fairly deal with homeowners at risk.
  • Kris Siglin of Housing Partnership Network, located in Boston, spoke of the need to look at real estate owned properties.
  • MidPen Housing was started in 1970 by Berkeley and Oakland residents, academics, and entrepreneurs who fought deplorable housing conditions. To date, they’ve developed over 9,000 units of housing in the Bay Area.

2013 can be a watershed year for opportunity housing advocates. In addition to wielding the power of the LIHTC, leaders must investigate all approaches to restoring balance in the wake of the foreclosure crisis. If you attended the Convening, what are your reflections on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead?

To read more about opportunity housing in the wake of the foreclosure crisis:

As always, check back here for more updates.

About Holly

Holly Jensen is a writer and poet who has worked with nonprofits and businesses for over a decade. She also serves as editor of The Ghazal Page, an international literary journal.
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