H. R. 3076 was introduced on October 3, 2011. The purpose of this bill is to amend the Internal Revenue Code to qualify formerly homeless youth who are students for purposes of the low income housing tax credit. The bill affects those youth identified as homeless by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act sec. 725, which includes those children awaiting foster care placement.
To understand how this affects foster youth it is helpful to see how the Low Income Tax Credit works. The Low Income Housing Tax Credit requires developers to develop housing that:
- At least 20% or more of the residential units in the development are both rent restricted and occupied by individuals whose income is 50% or less of the area median gross income.
- At least 40% or more of the residential units in the development are both rent restricted and occupied by individuals whose income is 60% or less of the area median gross income.
Low income tenants can be charged a maximum rent of 30% of the maximum eligible income, which is 60% of the area's median income adjusted for household size as determined by HUD. There are no limits on the rents that can be charged to tenants who are not low income but live in the same project.
You may be asking yourself: Why is this relevant to foster youth, since being homeless or low income does not mean you have been in foster care. Well, the fact is that in 1996, 27% of the homeless population in the U.S. had spent time in foster care, and current estimates from SAMHSA of past youth involvement in foster care range from 13.8%-53%.
This bill may also have implications for homeless youth, and particularly those with a history of foster care, that are working on furthering their education by opening up more affordable housing to them. One study states that youth in foster care are less likely to continue education past high school for a number of reasons, including placement instability, dropping out, and lack of financial resources for further education.
What are your thoughts on this bill? How might this affect the clients that you serve?