By J.D. DAVIDSON
THE CENTER SQUARE REGIONAL EDITOR
(The Center Square) — An Ohio congressman wants to help developers create more affordable rental housing for homeless students, veterans and foster youth while they pursue an education.
U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, hopes the bipartisan Low-Income Housing Tax Credit increases the availability of affordable housing for full-time students, who currently cannot live in LIHTC-funded properties.
The “student rule” was put in place to stop the building of dorms with LIHTC funds. It also includes students struggling or who have recently struggled with homelessness, who otherwise would qualify for housing.
Rep. Wenstrup says that forces students to choose between housing and education. The proposed legislation would create a limited exception to the student rule.
“Students and veterans struggling with homelessness should be able to access affordable housing as they pursue a full-time education. This bill empowers those in need to invest in their futures and sets them on the path to achieving the American dream,” Rep. Wenstrup said. “I’m pleased that this bill addresses one aspect of the affordable housing crisis.”
Rep. Danny Davis, D-Illinois, said the change is needed now for community college students pursing degrees.
“Housing security is fundamental to physical, mental, and socioeconomic well-being,” Rep. Davis said. “I am proud to work with Dr. Wenstrup to improve the successful Low Income Housing Tax Credit to ensure that youth and veterans struggling with homelessness do not have to choose between completing a college degree or stable housing.
“This fix is needed now more than ever when research shows that over one-third of all college students and almost half of community college students were housing insecure. This bill increases housing opportunities and stability for homeless youth and veterans so that they can complete their education and thrive.”
Meredith Owensby, co-director of Lydia’s House in Norwood, Ohio, said one of six applicants the organization receives for family shelter has some college background, and the most common reason for leaving school is financial success. “The Housing for Homeless Students Act would be a positive step in reducing the cost of housing for qualified students. With access to LIHTC housing, fewer individuals and families would have to leave full-time educational opportunities because of income limitations.”
Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, have introduced companion legislation in the Senate.