State and local governments sell tax-exempt Housing Bonds, commonly known as Mortgage Revenue Bonds (MRBs) and Multifamily Housing Bonds, and use the proceeds to finance low-cost mortgages for lower income first-time homebuyers or the production of apartments at rents affordable to lower income families. MRBs have made first-time homeownership possible for almost 3 million lower income families, approximately 100,000 every year. Multifamily Housing Bonds have provided financing to produce nearly 1 million apartments affordable to lower income families.
Each state’s annual issuance of Housing Bonds is capped. The 2013 limit is $95 multiplied by the state population, with a state minimum of $291.87 million. MRB mortgages are restricted to first-time home buyers who earn no more than the area median income (AMI). Larger families can earn up to 115 percent of AMI. In 2011, state HFAs provided MRB mortgages to families with an average income of $38,967, just 77 percent of the national median income. The price of a home purchased with a MRB mortgage is limited to 90 percent of the average area purchase price.
Multifamily housing bond developments must set aside at least 40 percent of their apartments for families with incomes of 60 percent of AMI or less, or 20 percent for families with incomes of 50 percent of AMI or less.
The Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) of 2008, championed by NCSHA and its allies, provided $11 billion in new Housing Bond Authority to be available through 2010 and made a number of additional changes, including exempting Housing Bond interest from the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT).
The recent economic crisis significantly diminished investor interest in MRBs and therefore severely limited the amount of funds available to finance affordable home mortgages and multifamily loans. During this period, NCSHA works with the Administration and Congress to support HFA efforts to issue more Housing Bonds and address their variable rate debt liquidity needs. In October 2009, the Obama Administration announced its HFA Initiative, through which the Treasury agreed to purchase tax-exempt housing bonds from state and local HFAs to help them weather the weak credit markets created by the crisis. This program helped HFAs provide 135,000 affordable mortgages to responsible low-and-moderate income borrowers and supported the development and rehabilitation of 40,000 units of affordable housing.
Housing Bonds and Tax Reform
Recently, as part of plans to comprehensively reform the federal tax code, the Administration and some in Congress have called for the tax-exemption for municipal bonds interest, including for housing bonds, to be repealed or capped. This would greatly diminish investor interest in housing bonds, making it much more difficult for HFAs to utilize these bonds to fulfill their affordable housing missions.
Advocating for support for the Housing Bond program is one of NCSHA’s Legislative Priorities. NCSHA is currently meeting with policymakers to ensure that housing bonds retain their tax-exempt status in any tax reform legislation that advances through Congress.
NCSHA Blog Posts
- February 2, 2016
Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation (H.R. 2209) that would allow large banks to count some of their municipal bond investments as high-quality liquid assets under federal bank liquidity standards. The legislation was passed by voice vote.
- December 16, 2015
Late December 15, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled tax extender legislation, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015, that would renew and make permanent some of the expired tax provisions, including the 9 percent minimum Housing Credit rate, and extend for either five years or two years other expired tax provisions. The bill—a major victory for NCSHA and other Housing Credit industry stakeholders—is the result of weeks of negotiations among leaders of both parties and both chambers.
- NYC HDC's website
- Bond Buyer
- Bond Buyer
- Maryland DHCD: Fitch Gives AA+ Rating to Community Development Administration’s Housing Revenue BondsJuly 9, 2013
Fitch Ratings, the global credit rating agency, assigned ‘AA+’ credit bond rating to DHCD’s Community Development Administration on their $52.5 million housing revenue bonds, 2013 series B and C, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
- May 16, 2013
The Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) today announced its recent sale of $127.6 million in multifamily taxable bonds demonstrated strong private investor interest in Illinois housing bonds.
Housing Bonds - Resources
- December 30, 2015
As part of NCSHA’s efforts to operate in an environmentally sensitive manner, we are providing this online reference guide instead of publishing a printed manual. This online reference guide includes links to reference materials useful for HFA program administration.
- December 18, 2015
The National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization created by the nation’s state Housing Finance Agencies (HFAs) to advance through advocacy and education their efforts to provide affordable housing to those who need it. NCSHA’s priorities, adopted annually by its Board of Directors after consultation with all state HFAs, set the agenda for NCSHA’s advocacy before Congress, the Administration, and the federal agencies concerned with housing, including HUD, USDA, and the Treasury, as well as its business activities.