Rangel and McCrery Unveil Katrina Housing Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Charles B. Rangel and Ranking Republican Jim McCrery introduced bipartisan legislation last night aimed at speeding up the construction of affordable homes in hurricane ravaged communities in the Gulf Coast region.
The “Katrina Housing Tax Relief Act of 2007”—one of several efforts by the Democratic majority to address the needs of hurricane victims—is an important step toward meeting the housing concerns of the area.
“We can’t bring New Orleans and the Gulf Coast back if there are no homes for people to return,” Rangel (D-NY) said today. “We want to hear hammers pounding and saws buzzing just as quickly as they can.”
The chairman’s bipartisan sponsored legislation facilitates the rebuilding by making substantial changes and broadening the eligibility requirements for low-income housing tax credits and tax-exempt mortgages.
Housing officials from the Gulf Coast testified last week that changes in the tax law relating to those programs were needed to ensure that residents of the region had access to as many helpful tools as possible.
“It’s time for Washington to become a instrument of progress to the people of the Gulf Coast as they rebuild their lives,” Rangel said.
The legislation introduced yesterday strengthens existing tax incentives to builders of affordable rental housing. Currently, those units would have to be inhabited by the end of 2008.
But because of the extraordinary upheaval Hurricane Katrina wreaked on municipal land use practices and the building process, many developers might not be able to meet this deadline. Under this proposal the date is extended through 2010.
Additionally, the bill extends to requirements to allow more homeowners to use tax-exempt mortgage bonds for substantial renovations and to refinance existing residential mortgage loans.
The “Katrina Housing Tax Relief Act of 2007” is expected to be marked-up by the full committee tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. in 1100 Longworth House Building.