Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09) recently introduced the Affordable Housing and Area Median Income Fairness Act (HR-4984) to help counter skyrocketing rent prices in New York and other major American metropolitan areas.
“Affordable housing has become out of reach for so many New Yorkers and in urban areas across America—when I’m home in Brooklyn, constituents have shared concerns with me about being ‘priced out’ of their neighborhoods. As cities grow and evolve, the ability to afford having a roof over someone’s head should not be a luxury only provided to those whose income is considered upper class,” said Clarke. “My legislation, the Affordable Housing and Area Median Income Fairness Act, will bring some much-needed course-correction to curb rental rates that have disproportionately ballooned over the years for Brooklynites and for hardworking people who call other cities home,” Clarke continued.
Area Median Income (AMI)—a statistic set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development—is used as the basis for affordable housing income caps and rent prices for programs from the Housing Trust Fund to the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. In recent years, high AMI levels across the country have placed affordable housing income caps and rent prices out of reach for many low- and middle-income communities.
Clarke’s bill includes adjustments to AMI that will lower income caps and make rent prices more affordable for both existing and new affordable units. In addition to reforming AMI, the Affordable Housing and Area Median Income Fairness Act takes significant steps to empower municipalities, increase developer transparency and bolster the supply of affordable housing for Americans across the country by creating over 350,000 new units of affordable housing.
The Affordable Housing and Area Median Income Fairness Act will make housing more affordable by:
• fixing AMI technicalities, including removing the erroneous statutory inclusion of Westchester and Rockland Counties in New York City’s AMI;
• exempting local jurisdictions from HUD’s High Housing Cost Adjustment, which currently raises rent levels in major urban areas;
• addressing the knowledge deficit by requiring enhanced transparency from developments that take advantage of affordable housing tax credits;
• directing HUD to comprehensively assess alternatives to the current AMI system; and
• addressing the structural issues of affordable housing, including by significantly increasing funding for key federal affordable housing programs.
Clarke said: “Living in cities was once the cornerstone of the American dream, but this is quickly becoming out of reach for too many Americans. My newly announced legislation, the Affordable Housing and Area Median Income Fairness Act, takes action now by addressing this national crisis to ensure that families of all income levels have access to safe and affordable housing.”
Earlier this year, Clarke introduced other legislation centered around affordable housing. The “Hardest-Hit Housing Act” (HR-2295) provides additional funding for the public housing Capital Fund for large public housing agencies, for mortgage foreclosure mitigation assistance and for incremental rental assistance vouchers.