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Research shows that housing vouchers — which like the proposed credit enable poor families to live in decent, stable housing while paying around 30 percent of their income — greatly reduce homelessness and housing instability.In addition, housing vouchers provided to homeless families lower the chance that a child will be removed from its family and placed in foster care (which often occurs because parents cannot afford suitable housing), reduce the frequency with which children must move from one school to another, and lower rates of behavioral and sleep problems among children and psychological distress and domestic violence among the adults with whom children live.Tight multi-year caps on non-defense discretionary appropriations, the budget category that includes rental assistance programs, will make it difficult to expand those programs in the coming years.But a new “project-based” renters’ tax credit could help a substantial number of the lowest-income renters — including low-wage workers and poor seniors and people with disabilities — afford decent, stable housing.
A capped renters’ credit would make it possible to provide a substantial per-household credit at a more moderate cost than providing an uncapped credit covering all eligible households.
The credit would be scaled up gradually, so its cost and the number of families assisted would be much lower during the early years of implementation.
In recent years, proposals for a renters’ tax credit have received growing attention from a diverse range of organizations.
Finally, the proposed renters’ credit would be well suited to ensure that the lowest-income households share in the benefits of investment in transportation and other infrastructure.
Infrastructure improvements can drive up rents in affected neighborhoods, preventing low-income families from moving to those areas and in some cases displacing long-time residents.
For example, a credit with an annual cost of billion once fully phased in could enable about 720,000 poor families to live in a stable home at per-family cost of ,300, close to the same as the cost of a housing voucher.