The report, compiled and written by intern Phoebe Dragseth and Senator Bell, details how Rhode Island has turned away an average of $197.3 million per year in federal funding for affordable housing available under the 4 percent tax credit program of the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit. “From 2014 to 2020, Rhode Island was eligible for up to $1.553 billion in 4 percent tax credit funds, but we only spent $171.4 million, turning away a total of $1.381 billion. That works out to an average of $197.3 million of federal funds turned away each year,” said Dragseth. “With the housing crisis roiling Rhode Island, now is not the time to turn down federal funds allocated to our state to build affordable housing. Rhode Island must act fast to put in place the policies necessary to maximize the 4% credit federal funding stream.”
“For years, we have struggled to bring affordable housing production to the scale where it will meaningfully mitigate the housing crisis. Excitingly, our results show a path forwards to get to scale,” said Senator Bell. “By taking advantage of the massive 4% credit federal funding stream, we can vastly increase our affordable housing production to the point where it will begin to seriously slow down the housing crisis. Affordable housing is a big problem. It is an expensive problem. To solve this challenge, it will take a significant investment. That is why it matters that we have such an enormous amount of federal funds available. We have the money. We just need to stop turning it away.”
The report identifies insufficient state funding for affordable housing, not using state affordable housing funds to help make 4 percent credit projects work and over-reliance on the private market to take advantage of the federal program as reasons why the federal funding has not been utilized. The report, which is attached, makes ten detailed recommendations for fully maximizing the available federal 4 percent credit funding.
Due to his newborn son’s ongoing hospitalization, Senator Bell may be somewhat slower than usual about returning media calls, but he will do his best to return them as soon as possible, and he encourages members of the press to still reach out with questions.