A graphic showing buildings, some shaded in red, to illustrate Shelterforce's new Under the Lens series, LIHTC: The Good, the Bad, and the Very Complicated

Under the Lens

LIHTC: The Good, the Bad, and the Very Complicated

The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program awards billions in tax credits each year to private market investors and developers who promise to build or preserve affordable housing. But the program is notoriously complex. Who enforces its rules? Why is it so dominant in the housing sector? What’s the current state of efforts to reform it?

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Transparent check mark over compliance related icons and words handwritten on white papers
Explainers

How Are LIHTC Rules Enforced—And How Well?

LIHTC developers must follow strict affordability rules—and fulfill other promises—for at least 30 years. While industry insiders insist compliance rates are high, tenant advocates say noncompliance is a real problem.

An aerial view of a large, four-story, U-shaped housing development, still being built, and surrounded by settled neighborhoods on the three sides that are visible. The roof is white and the various sections of the exterior walls are blue, tan, brick, or white. The ground around the structure is still raw dirt, with several trucks and machines in view.
Opinion

Can Residents Get More Out of Tax Credit Housing?

Arrangements in which LIHTC tenants share in the development’s financial benefits, or become partial or full owners, are rare—but some properties have pulled them off. This scan of several examples shows the possibilities—and the conditions needed for them to succeed.

Three men in work clothes including helmets and tool belts stand on scaffolding. It looks as though the scaffolding is standing alone but it is erected against a white building, creating that effect.
Reported Article

How to Reform the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program

Housing and policy experts agree that LIHTC has successfully increased the supply of affordable housing. But they also believe there’s room for improvement.

Explainers

LIHTC for Regular People

The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit is famously complex. We can’t exactly make it simple, but we’ve broken down the basics, especially those that residents of a LIHTC property might want to know, as clearly as possible.

A skyscraper at night with windows lit up to form a large dollar sign.
Reported Article

LIHTC Right of First Refusal Is Still Under Attack

Three years after our initial story, aggressive investors are still suing LIHTC general partners to profit off of what should be affordable housing. But one legal decision, along with proposed legislation, could help protect the right of first refusal.

Close-up of document titled "Rent Increase Notice." Text is partly hidden by a blue and silver ballpoint pen. Visible text says "...inform you that beginning on ____ .... increase by $_____. No other ..... to original rental agreement.... monthly payment is due on the first...."
Reported Article

How Tenant Activists Won Protections Against Mid-Lease Rent Hikes in Affordable Housing

Last year, we reported on tenants in Northern Virginia LIHTC properties whose rents were raised in the middle of their leases. Here’s how other states have banned the practice.

Graffiti of green housing overlapping each other.
Reported Article

The Only Tool in the Box: What It Means That LIHTC Dominates Affordable Housing

Even those who praise the tax credit program and what it has accomplished are concerned that there are so few sizeable alternatives to it.

Concept bold thinking—individual red paper plane flies in different direction in contrast to crowd of ordinary white planes
Opinion

How to Really Reform the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program

Adding more credits and making tweaks do not actually address some of the major weaknesses of the program. We should be bolder.

Westerly Creek development
Explainers

How Are LIHTC Rents Set—And Why Can’t So Many Renters Afford Them?

This video breaks down the LIHTC rent-setting process, and shows the surprising number of people it doesn’t serve.

LIHTC

LIHTC: Are Little Changes Enough? A Shelterforce Webinar

There are reforms and expansions of Low-Income Housing Tax Credit afoot. But some in the field argue that we need to change the tax credit model of financing housing more deeply—or move away from it entirely. Join scholars and organizers as they discuss these issues and explore a path forward.

Shelterforce Weekly

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