Terner Center Blog: No Limits

Category Archives: Informing the Dialogue

Balancing the tax code to relieve housing cost burdens

Posted on by Terner Center Team

Of the more than 21 millions renters in the United States who are burdened by the cost of housing today, more than 15 million can not access assistance they are eligible for, because there aren’t enough federal resources to meet their needs. In part, this is a result of skewed tax code that directs significant expenditures to homeowners and other policy priorities, and leaves the housing security and economic mobility of renter families behind. 

Amidst emerging conversations about reforming the federal tax code, it is important that we are reminded of this imbalance and seize the opportunity, should there be one, to address it. As we discussed in our November 2016 paper and blog, a national renter’s tax credit would go along way to achieving this goal and helping to bring more fairness into the system.

Our policy brief proposed the Federal Assistance In Rental (FAIR) tax credit, which would leverage the tax code to direct much needed resources to renters, with three potential options for implementation. These options vary in terms of their price tag and reach, but all are designed to help stabilize the finances and housing situation of vulnerable renters. Today, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), which first put forth a renter’s tax credit proposal in 2013, released a new paper further exploring strategies for implementation. The paper offers a number of refinements to CBPP’s original proposal, including a “project-based” implementation, which would be administered by states to allocate credits to developers and owners. This feature simplifies the proposal considerably.

Beyond the Terner Center and CBPP, a number of thought leaders across the political spectrum have expressed support for, or offered their own versions of, a renter’s tax credit. As the dialogue around tax reform gains momentum, rebalancing the tax code to better serve low-income renters should be a high priority, and a renter’s tax credit could help us get there. 


Federal Policy Outlook: 2017 and Beyond

Posted on by Terner Center Team
Filed under: Informing the Dialogue,

Since November's federal election, many have been considering what the incoming Administration portends for housing policy and practice in the next four years. Last Tuesday, California Housing Consortium and the Terner Center for Housing Innovation welcomed over 100 people to a panel discussion in Oakland intended to explore this question. The event brought together housing experts Michael Novogradac of Novogradac & Associates, Chris Gouig of Alameda County Housing Authority, Matt Schwartz of California Housing Partnership Corporation, and our Faculty Director, Carol Galante. CHC Policy Director Marina Wiant moderated the conversation, asking questions about tranistions in federal leadership in housing, the nature and implications of impending tax reform,…


Balancing the Burden: Proposing a FAIR Tax Credit for Renters Facing Affordability Challenges

Posted on by Carol Galante, Carolina Reid, and Nathaniel Decker

By most accounts, rents have never been higher. In the United States, over 21 million people see more than 30 percent of what they earn go to rent each month. And over 11 million Americans are paying more than 50 percent of their income to rent their home, leaving little left over for other essentials like healthcare and food, and leaving too many facing a precarious stretch of days until their next paycheck. And this is not just a problem of poverty: because rents have risen faster than incomes, even renters who are working full-time and earning modest wages are…


Has The Expansion of American Cities Slowed Down?

Posted on by Issi Romem
Filed under: Informing the Dialogue,

This piece originally appeared on the BuildZoom blog. The original post can be found here. Key takeaways: As a whole, U.S. cities maintained a constant pace of outward expansion into rural territory since the 1950s, but behind the facade two groups of thriving cities are behaving very differently. The first group of cities substantially reduced the pace of outward expansion beginning in the 1970s, channeling its economic strength into higher property values. This group includes San Francisco, Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Diego, Washington, Philadelphia, Portland and Miami. In contrast, the second group of cities accelerated its outward expansion,…


Urban Revival? Not For Most Americans

Posted on by Jed Kolko

The U.S. population is now less urban than before the start of the housing bubble. While well-educated, higher-income young adults have become much more likely to live in dense urban neighborhoods, most demographic groups have been left out of the urban revival. In recent years, numerous studies and media reports have documented that college-educated young adults have been drawn to urban centers. At times some have claimed a broader demographic reversal in which cities grow faster than suburbs, and even the end of the suburbs. But, in fact, the U.S. continues to suburbanize. The share of Americans living in urban…


Why Millennials Still Live With Their Parents

Posted on by Jed Kolko

This piece originally appeared on Jed Kolko's blog. The original post can be found here. The entire increase in young adults living with their parents over the past twenty years can be explained by demographic shifts. That means the high share of millennials living with parents today might be the new normal. This morning the Census reported that more young adults are living with their parents in 2015 than during the recession. Despite widespread expectations (including my own) that young people would move out as the job market recovered, they are not. The share of 18-34 year-olds living with parents…


Housing: The Silent Crisis?

This piece was originally published on the J. Ronald Terwilliger Foudation for Housing America's Families Blog on June 30th, 2015. The original post can be found here. June 18th marked the official launch of the J. Ronald Terwilliger Foundation for Housing America’s Families. As a member of their National Advisory Committee, I was in attendance for the event, and had the opportunity to share some thoughts on the “Silent Housing Crisis.” The subject is of particular interest as I prepare to launch The Terner Center for Housing Innovation, which shares many of the goals of JRT Housing. Both JRT Housing…