March 13, 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) introduced the Housing for Homeless Students Act, bipartisan legislation that would update current law to ensure students who have experienced homelessness or are currently homeless can access affordable housing while pursuing their education. Under current law, people pursuing full-time education are not eligible for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program and can lose access to scholarships and grants if they switch to part-time education in order to retain access to affordable housing. The Senators’ bill would create an exemption for students if they’ve experienced homelessness within the last seven years.
“It should go without saying – homeless youth and veterans need a roof over their head while they pursue an education so they can get on track and find a path to success,” Senator King said. “These men and women are working to improve their lives and invest in their future, and they should not be faced with impossible decisions like choosing between furthering their studies or having a place to sleep at night. The Housing for Homeless Students Act is a necessary step forward to ensuring homeless youth and veterans have equal opportunity to grow, learn, and succeed.”
“It is in all of our interests to help homeless kids and veterans find housing,” said Senator Portman. “Students shouldn’t have to choose between stable housing and going to school full-time. By giving low-income students access to affordable housing while they attend school, we can help to ensure that they are able to graduate, pursue their dreams, and achieve their God-given potential.”
“Students and veterans who have experienced homelessness shouldn’t be forced to choose between pursuing an education and access to affordable housing,” said Senator Brown. “I’m proud to work with Sen. Portman on the Housing for Homeless Students Act to provide clarity to current law and ensure the housing tax credit works for students investing in their futures.”
The LIHTC Program provides tax incentives to developers to build or rehabilitate affordable housing units. Currently, the program does not allow tenants enrolled in the program to be full-time students. If students pursue a part-time education, they risk losing out on scholarships and grants available to full-time students only. The original intent of the rule was to prevent LIHTC funding from being used to construct student housing for students who have temporarily low-incomes at the expense of low-income families with long-term needs. However, current law provides no exception for homeless or formerly-homeless students.
The Housing for Homeless Students Act would also benefit homeless veterans and young people who age out of foster care and often experience higher rates of homelessness and unemployment.