Wenstrup, Davis Introduce Housing for Homeless Students Act
Washington, October 30, 2019 | Ann Tumolo (202-225-3164)
Washington, D.C. - Congressman Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) and Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) introduced the Housing for Homeless Students Act of 2019, which helps homeless and recently homeless youth and veterans access affordable housing while pursuing an education. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Angus King (I-ME) introduced the Senate companion to this bill in March.
Currently, individuals pursuing full-time education are not eligible for Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) housing. Alternatively, should those students attend school part-time in order to retain their LIHTC eligibility, they may lose access to grants, scholarships, and loans reserved for full-time students.
“Students and veterans who have battled homelessness should have access to affordable housing while pursuing a full-time education. This bill will ensure that individuals who would otherwise qualify for Low-Income Housing Tax Credit housing can remain eligible for affordable units while clearly earning a degree and investing in their futures,” said Congressman Wenstrup.
“A survey by researchers at Temple University and the college affordability focused Wisconsin HOPE Lab found that 36 percent of all college students and 46 percent of community college students were considered to be housing insecure. Nine percent of four year college students and 12 percent of community college students reported experiencing completely homeless in the past year,” stated Representative Davis. “Offering students housing security with this limited, common sense adjustment to the LIHTC could prevent youth from being forced to choose between completing a college degree or stable housing.”
“Young adults working to escape homelessness should not have to choose between stable housing or pursuing their education. It’s unacceptable. (At Lighthouse, we see young people forced to contend with this dilemma every day.) This exception to the LIHTC rule will remove this barrier to their success and encourage young people experiencing homelessness to pursue their dreams,” said Paul Haffner, President and CEO of Lighthouse Youth and Family Services.
“The Housing for Homeless Students Act would be a boon for students facing poverty and homelessness. In our years of working with women between 18 and 24 experiencing homelessness, we have frequently heard stories of attempting and failing to stay in college because of housing instability. By giving these students the option of LIHTC housing we can reduce the number of young people who have to walk away from education because they can't afford to stay housed,” said Meridith Owensby, codirector of Lydia's House in Norwood, Ohio.
The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) provides tax incentives to developers to build or rehabilitate affordable housing units. However, the LIHTC “student rule” does not allow tenants, including homeless and formerly homeless individuals, to be full-time students. This prohibition was intended to prevent LIHTC funds from being used to build student housing on college campuses and to prevent college students, who have temporarily low incomes, from utilizing resources meant for individuals and families with longer-term housing needs.
Currently, there are several exemptions from LIHTC’s “student rule.” However, there is no exception for youth or veterans that have recently experienced homelessness.
The Housing for Homeless Students Act exempts children and youth from the student rule if they experienced homelessness at any point within the last seven years. It will also exempt veterans from the student rule if they experienced homelessness at any point in the previous five years.
This legislation has been endorsed by: SchoolHouse Connection, Affordable Housing Tax Coalition, Children’s Home Society of America, Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, and Lighthouse Youth and Family Services.