WASHINGTON – The National Housing Conference (NHC) submitted comments today on Opportunity Zones (OZ) to the U.S. Department of the Treasury. NHC believes that to be eligible for the tax incentive, any tax-deferred investments targeted specifically at distressed communities should avoid the elimination of affordable housing leading to displacement of current residents.
“With the right parameters, Opportunity Zones have tremendous potential to bring capital investments to create new housing and economic opportunities in distressed, low-income communities and help lift people out of poverty,” said David M. Dworkin, NHC president and CEO. “However, we strongly oppose taxpayer dollars being used to create more displacement and concentration of poverty.”
NHC’s letter notes that over half of renters in Opportunity Zones are housing cost-burdened, paying one-third or more of their incomes on rent, and almost 80 percent of low-income households in Opportunity Zones are housing cost-burdened. “It would be tragic if taxpayers made OZ investments only in higher-priced rental housing, contributing to the elimination of affordable housing that initially qualified the community for OZ designation. This potential unintended consequence could result in displacement and concentrations of poverty contrary to the spirit of the law.”
The letter recommends that Treasury collect and share data on Opportunity Zones investments and their outcomes, define abuse and implement corresponding penalties, and clarify that Opportunity Zones can work in conjunction with the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and the Community Reinvestment Act.
NHC and its members will continue to work with the Department of the Treasury to ensure the objectives of the Opportunity Zones program are met and all OZ residents benefit from the new investment.
About NHC: The National Housing Conference has been defending the American Home since 1931. Everyone in America should have equal opportunity to live in a quality, affordable home in a thriving community. NHC convenes and collaborates with our diverse membership and the broader housing and community development sectors to advance our policy, research and communications initiatives to effect positive change at the federal, state and local levels. Politically diverse and nonpartisan, NHC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.