Wenstrup’s bill would provide homeless students with affordable housing

Rep. Brad Wenstrup

U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) on Oct. 28 introduced bipartisan legislation in his chamber that would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to qualify homeless youth and veterans who are full-time students for purposes of the low-income housing tax credit.

“This bill will ensure that individuals who would otherwise qualify for low-income housing tax credit housing can remain eligible for affordable units while clearly earning a degree and investing in their futures,” Rep. Wenstrup said.

The congressman is the lead original cosponsor of the Housing for Homeless Students Act of 2019, H.R. 4865, with bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) to improve access for homeless youth and U.S. military veterans to affordable housing while they are pursuing an education.

H.R. 4865 is the companion bill to the same-named S. 767, which was introduced in March by U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

Currently, individuals pursuing full-time education are not eligible for the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC), and if they chose to attend school part-time to become eligible, they subsequently could lose access to grants, scholarships, and loans reserved for full-time students, according to Rep. Wenstrup’s office.

The LIHTC provides tax incentives to developers to build or rehabilitate affordable housing units but does not allow tenants, including homeless and formerly homeless individuals, to be full-time students. This prohibition is intended to prevent LIHTC funds from being used to build student housing on college campuses and to prevent college students, who have temporarily low incomes, from utilizing resources meant for individuals and families with longer-term housing needs, according to Rep. Wenstrup’s office.

The bill would exempt homeless students from the rule if they experienced homelessness at any point within the last seven years, and would exempt veterans if they experienced homelessness at any point in the previous five years.