A bill to slash developers' access to state tax credits for affordable housing construction sputtered out just before Georgia lawmakers wrapped up this year’s legislative session Thursday night.

House Bill 1182 aimed to cut the state's Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, which for over 20 years has provided a dollar-for-dollar match for federal credits propelling affordable housing development.

The legislation would have limited the state credits to 50% of any federal LIHTC awarded, except for developments in “targeted communities” — which it defined as housing projects located in rural counties or near “stable and high-frequency transportation;” complexes for seniors or people with disabilities; renovation projects; or those owned by public housing authorities.

Critics worried the bill’s passage would deal a serious blow to much-needed affordable housing production.

“The State Low Income Housing Tax Credit provides the only state dollars for the development and preservation of affordable housing in Georgia,” the Georgia Supportive Housing Coalition said in a statement last week that urged lawmakers to reject HB 1182. “The Low Income Housing Tax Credit program is the most important resource for creating affordable housing in the country.”

But state Rep. Clint Crowe, the Henry County Republican who co-authored the bill, said it was born of a broader effort to “make tax credits more efficient.”

“At the end of the day, that is taxpayer money,” he said in a Wednesday interview. “We want to be able to say we support affordable housing, but we also wanted to make sure we tightened it up where we could to get the best outcome for [the program].”

Crowe, a real estate broker, conceded that HB 1182 would reduce affordable housing development “to some degree — but it’s also going to reduce the liability to Georgia taxpayers.”

Georgia State University’s Fiscal Research Center estimated in 2022 that state taxpayers would claim $331 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits in fiscal year 2023 — and $1.74 billion over the five-year period of fiscal years 2023 to 2027. The tax credits are spread out over 10 years and offset income tax.

HB 1182 passed a House vote on Feb. 27, supported by most Republicans and rejected by most Democrats — but it sputtered out in the Senate, which tabled it on March 26.

“There was significant bipartisan opposition to reducing the state’s only investment in the construction and preservation of affordable housing,” Elizabeth Appley, an attorney and lobbyist for housing-focused organizations like the Georgia Supportive Housing Association and HouseATL, said of the bill’s path through the Senate.

But Appley doesn’t expect this to be the last time legislators attempt to cut back the state’s LIHTC program.

“Our challenge going forward is to help legislators better understand the value of increasing the state’s investment in providing safe, stable affordable housing to lower-income Georgians, seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, and homeless people,” she said. “It is a critical missing piece for all Georgians to succeed and thrive.”

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