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Renters' Tax Credit Would Promote Equity and Advance Balanced Housing Policy
By Barbara Sard and Will Fischer, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, July 2012
Over the past several decades, the nation’s housing policy has focused predominantly on increasing homeownership. Most federal housing expenditures now benefit families with relatively little need for assistance. About 75 percent of federal housing expenditures support homeownership, when both direct spending and tax subsidies are counted. The bulk of homeownership expenditures go to the top fifth of households by income, who typically could afford to purchase a home without subsidies. Overall, more than half of federal spending on housing benefits households with incomes above $100,000.
Meanwhile, low-income renters are far more likely than higher-income households to pay a very high share of their income for housing and to face other serious housing-related problems. Research has shown that rental assistance sharply reduces homelessness and housing instability —conditions that have a major long-term impact on children’s health and development — and enerates other important benefits. Yet, federal rental assistance programs only reach about one in four of our eligible low-income renters, due to funding limitations.
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