General News Category Archives

Harvard Joint Center Publishes New Report on Housing Older Americans

More than half of the nation’s households are now headed by someone at least 50 years of age. These 65 million older households are highly diverse in their living situations, financial resources, health and functional abilities, and life stages, and thus require different types of housing to meet their needs and preferences. Affordable, accessible housing located in age-friendly communities and linked to health supports is in particularly short supply. Demand for these units will only increase when the baby boomers start to turn 80 in less than a decade. And whether they own or rent, millions of older households struggle to pay for their housing and other basic necessities, and their numbers are rising. Households now in their 50s to mid-60s are especially at risk of having insufficient resources to manage rising healthcare and housing costs in their later years.

The report’s analyses of demographic, financial, and geographic data highlight several other notable trends, including:
  • Many older Americans are burdened by housing costs: Nearly a third of households age 65 or older (9.7 million) pay at least 30 percent of their income for housing, and more than half of these pay over 50 percent. [INTERACTIVE MAP]
  • There is a large wealth gap between older homeowners and renters: Median homeowners aged 50–64 had a net worth of $292,000 in 2016—almost 60 times that of the same-age median renter. The difference in wealth between owners age 65 and over and same-age renters is nearly as large.
  • While median incomes rose in the last five years for older adults, gains were uneven. From 2011-2016, median incomes rose 9.6 percent for those 65-79 and 5.2 percent for those 80 and over, while those 50-64 saw an increase of only 2.6 percent.
  • There is an historically high gap in homeownership rates for older whites and blacks: 81 percent of white households age 50 and over own their homes compared to only 57 percent of older black households. This 24-percentage point gap is the largest disparity since recordkeeping began in 1976.
  • Growing numbers of older adults live in low-density areas:Between 2000 and 2016, the share of older adults living in low-density tracts in 95 of the 100 largest US metros rose from 24 to 32 percent, an increase of almost 6 million adults. Providing services and transportation alternatives is more difficult in locations with more dispersed housing. [INTERACTIVE MAP]
  • There aren’t enough accessible units to serve the growing number of those with physical challenges: In 2016, 17 percent of households age 50 and over included someone who had difficulty climbing stairs or walking (including 43 percent of those age 80 and over). However, according to the most recent estimates available, only 3.5 percent of US homes had three key features for those with mobility challenges: single-floor living, no-step entries, and extra-wide halls and doors.
  • Many of the most vulnerable live alone: The share of households 80 and over that are single-person reaches 57 percent. Among renters of the same age, 77 percent live alone. Single-person households in need of support or care must rely on non-resident or paid caregivers, yet also have lower incomes than larger households.

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2019 Qualified Census Tracts and Difficult Development Areas

HUD has released the 2019 lists of designated Difficult Development Areas (DDAs) and Qualified Census Tracts (QCTs). The designations, effective January 1, 2019, are made annually and are used for the purposes of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program.

An affordable housing project located in a DDA or a QCT and financed with LIHTC is eligible for a 30 percent increase in its tax credit basis. To qualify as a QCT, an area must have at least 50 percent of households with incomes below 60 percent of the Area Median Gross Income (AMGI) or have a poverty rate of at least 25 percent. QCTs are determined based on the three most recent sets of American Community Survey data. To be designated a DDA, an area must have high land, construction, and utility costs relative to AMGI. The designations of DDAs are based on modified Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Small Area Fair Market Rents (Small Area FMRs), FY2018 non-metropolitan county FMRs, FY2018 income limits, and 2010 Census population counts.

Visit the Qualified Census Tracts and Difficult Development Areas page on HUD User to access the lists, data, and documentation, as well as maps of both QCTs and DDAs. Documentation contains detailed explanations of HUD designation methodology. A geocoded dBase file is also available for 2019 QCTs.

Learn more at 

UPDATE: Mid-Term Elections & Its Impact on Affordable Housing

Like many of you, I was up late watching the returns from yesterday’s mid-term elections.  As I write this we are still waiting for final results  on several races, but a few things are becoming clear. The following are some of my first impressions on what the elections could mean for affordable housing and tax credit developers:

To start, the Democrats will take back control of the US House of Representatives in January and as a result committee leadership will also shift back to Democrats.

  • House Ways & Means Committee: Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) is expected to take over the committee gavel and we are optimistic that given his past leadership sponsoring bipartisan LIHTC and NMTC legislation (including HR 1661, the current LIHTC vehicle in the House) we can expect some positive attention from the Ways & Means on community development issues in the coming Congress.  At least five Ways & Means Committee Republicans lost their reelection bids, including Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), who is the current lead Republican sponsor in the House of Representatives of the Housing Credit Improvement Act.  Educating and recruiting new members of congress and particularly new Ways & Means Committee members about the LIHTC, HTC and NMTC will be one of our highest priorities in the coming months.  Current Ways & Means Chair Kevin Brady (R-TX) is expected to serve as Ranking Member in the coming Congress.
  • Housing Financial Services Committee: Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) is expected to lead the Financial Services Committee in the next Congress.  With current Committee Chair Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) retiring, there is still some uncertainty as to who will serve as Ranking Member.  In terms of seniority, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) is next in line to serve as Committee Chair and is a likely candidate.  There will be many new Republicans serving on the Committee in the next Congress — seven current members are retiring at the end of this Congress and at least three more lost their reelection bids.

Republicans built on their majority in the US Senate.  Several races are still too close to call at the time that I am writing this so the exact margin remains unclear

  • Senate Finance Committee:  The Senate Finance Committee will have new leadership in the Congress with the retirement of Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) at the end of this term.  Since Hatch is the lead Senate Republican sponsor of the HCIA, advocates will be focused on identifying a new Republican Lead Sponsor.  Leadership of the Committee will transition to Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA).  Sen. Grassley currently serves as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and he will have to give up this Chairmanship to take over Senate Finance.  Republican Committee Member Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) lost his reelection bid, opening up at least one new spot on the Majority.  Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) is expected to continue on as Ranking Member on the Finance Committee.  Democrat Committee Members Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Sen. Bill Nelson (R-FL) also lost their reelection races.  Notably, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) also one reelection.
  • Senate Banking Committee:  With Senator Grassley opting to become Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) is likely to continue on as Chairman of the Banking Committee.  Sen. Sherrod Brown will almost certainly continue on as Ranking Member on the Banking Committee.  Democrat Committee Members Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) both lost their reelection bids so there will likely be at least one new Democratic Member on the Committee as did Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV).  With Sen. Corker’s (R-TN) retirement we can expect at least two new Republican Members in the next Congress.

With the election over, our attention turns to the Lame Duck session of Congress.  There are still several must-pass legislative vehicles that Congress needs to address including several appropriations bills and tax extenders.  We are hopeful that one of these measures will prove to be a vehicle to pass additional provisions from the HCIA including the flat 4% LIHTC for TEB financed transactions.  These could also be potential vehicles for critical historic tax credit legislation and/or the extension of the the NMTC.

What will the tenure of the next Congress look like?  One election result  that may shape things is that many of the more ‘moderate’ voices from both parties retired or lost their reelection bids.  Historically, split government has led to great compromises, like the deal making in the 1980s that led to the 1986 Tax Act.  But it just as often results in more partisanship and gridlock.  As they say, the proof will be in the pudding.

We will continue to update this story as we learn more information.  Stay tuned and please feel free to reach out to me at with your questions and observations!

Thomas Amdur
Executive Director

Senate Committee To Hold Oversight Hearing on GSE Pilot Programs

The Senate Committee On Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs will meet in on October 18 to conduct a hearing entitled “Oversight of Pilot Programs at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.”  The witnesses will be:

  • Ms. Sandra Thompson, Deputy Director, Division of Housing Mission and Goals, Federal Housing Finance Agency; 
  • Mr. Timothy J. Mayopoulos, Chief Executive Officer, Fannie Mae; and
  • Mr. Donald H. Layton, Chief Executive Officer, Freddie Mac.

It is unclear at time of press which Pilot Programs will be addressed during the hearing, which will be webcast live.