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New bill could bring tax relief to renters struggling with affordability

Bill from New York’s Joseph Crowley seeks to provide relief to “rent-burdened”

A new bill introduced Monday by Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-New York, could bring relief to renters who find themselves struggling to afford their rent.

Crowley’s bill, entitled “The Rent Relief Act,” would offer refundable tax credits to people who live in rental housing.

Crowley introduced the bill on Monday in Queens, New York.

In an announcement, Crowley’s office noted that currently 111 million Americans live in rental housing, while in New York City, nearly two-thirds of all households are occupied by renters, which is twice the national average. 

In a statement, Crowley said that the bill will help people who struggle to “balance the needs of their families with increasingly unaffordable housing markets.”

Under Crowley’s bill, qualified individuals whose primary residence is rental housing and pay more than 30% of their income in rent would be eligible for a refundable tax credit determined by several factors, including the household’s annual income, the total amount spent annually on rent, and a stimulated rate of the federal government’s established fair market annual rent caps.

Additionally, under the bill, individuals who live in government-subsidized rental housing would be able to claim the value of one month’s rent as a refundable tax credit.

“As subsidized housing rent is typically capped at 30% of a person’s income, making them ineligible for the tax credit for rent-burdened residents, this credit would give much-needed relief to lower income residents,” Crowley’s office stated.

“The lack of rental affordability isn’t just hurting the working poor – it’s a serious burden on hard-working middle-class families too,” Crowley said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, the demand for rental housing continues to outpace supply, and while all signs point to higher rents in the future, wages remain stagnant,” Crowley added. “Just as the tax code has helped make home ownership more affordable, I believe Congress must provide relief to the growing number of renters who are feeling squeezed financially. That’s why I am introducing the Rent Relief Act.”

Diane Yentel, the president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, welcomed Crowley’s “innovative” bill.

“Congressman Crowley’s Rent Relief Act would provide much-needed resources directly to struggling families and individuals to help them afford to keep a roof over their heads,” Yentel said Monday.

“These refundable tax credits would put more money in the pockets of the lowest income families, at a time when their wages have flat-lined and housing costs have skyrocketed,” Yentel added. “Millions of families – including those with the greatest needs – would no longer be forced to make impossible choices between paying for rent and covering other basic needs like food and healthcare. I applaud Congressman Crowley for his leadership on this innovative, bold proposal.”

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