How States Tackled Housing in 2022
A number of state legislatures addressed key housing challenges in their legislative sessions, from home ownership & housing to taxation
Seanneice Bamiro | a ProsperityNow feature
State legislatures file, introduce and pass thousands of bills each year. As many of the state legislative sessions around the nation have ended thus far in 2022, there have been progressive bills introduced and passed in states across the political spectrum in the areas of homeownership and housing, financial security, and taxation. Inflation is a critical issue this year as individuals and families are battling the steep incline in prices for household and daily living costs.
Overall, households have felt the pinch of inflation throughout much of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why it is critical for states to improve access to an affordable cost of living.
Advocates and progressive legislators across the nation answered the call to action to meet the needs of low- and moderate-income households through fearless advocacy. While good bills were enacted, there was also legislation introduced that although not enacted, showed some promise and progressive movement that would have had a substantial impact on communities.
Here’s how states fared this legislative session by leading on these three key policy areas …
Homeownership & Housing
While battling inflation, potential homeowners are also facing challenges for viable and affordable housing options which underscores the need for assistance programs and housing interventions. People searching for homes are encountering a 57 percent housing inventory shortage, compared to the 2019 housing inventory, causing homebuyers to make concessions such as waving critical inspections in order to remain competitive in the current market.
States tackled key housing challenges in their legislative sessions. For those recently released from incarceration, having a criminal record poses an additional barrier to viable housing. In addition, it is also crucial to keep property taxes stable or minimize increases for current homeowners already facing the challenges of rising household costs.
MARYLAND – Maryland was a standout state for homeownership protections this year. Maryland enacted two bills, Senate Bill 181: Homeowners’ Property Tax Credit – Application Filing Deadline – Extension and Senate Bill 197: Homestead Property Tax Credit Program which would provide property tax relief for homeowners. Senate Bill 181 specifically focuses on extending the filing deadline on the means-tested Homeowner’s Property Tax Credit and Senate Bill 197 would allow any primary-homeowner to retroactively qualify for the Homestead Property Tax Credit program for the prior taxable year. Further, nationwide, racial inequities in-home appraisal processes are prevalent and in Prince George’s County, one of Maryland’s predominantly Black counties, homeowners have alleged bias in the home appraisal process. House Bill 1097: Task Force on Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity was enacted to create a task force to address the inequity in property value appraisals which will lead to recommendations to address this issue.
WASHINGTON – Formerly incarcerated people are seven times more likely to be homeless than those who were not incarcerated, which places them at greater risk. The Washington State Legislature enacted House Bill 1818: Promoting Successful Reentry and Rehabilitation of Persons Convicted of Criminal Offenses which provides housing vouchers for six months for formerly incarcerated people leaving the Department of Correction’s custody.
MICHIGAN – Michigan enacted House Bill 4290: Individual Income Tax: Deductions; Tax Incentive for Contributions Made to First-time Home Buyers’ Program, an innovative bill that authorizes the Department of Treasury to establish the First-Time Home Buyer Savings Program that allows first-time home buyers to save up to $50,000 in a savings account, tax exempt. As housing costs are becoming less affordable, this bill will help first-time homebuyers save money towards their down payment.
COLORADO – At the close of last year, Colorado had only adopted 2 out of 7 of the Scorecard Homeownership and Housing policies which impede homeownership and housing affordability, particularly for Coloradans of color. However, just last month the Colorado state legislature passed, House Bill 22-1051: Mod Affordable Housing Tax Credit which provides $10 million in funding for tax credits specifically for affordable housing for people below the area median income.
*PENNSYLVANIA - While Pennsylvania’s homeownership rate stands out as one of the highest in the nation at 69 percent, well above the national average, that is driven largely by a high rate of low - and - moderate income homeowners, particularly in places like Philadelphia. That also presents challenges as homeowners in lower income brackets face enormous hurdles compounded by some of the oldest housing stock in the nation. As a result, many Pennsylvania homeowners are unable to maintain, repair or upgrade their homes as needed, a major problem as climate crisis impacts intensify and homes are in desperate need of weatherization. An inability to repair or weatherize a home is not only a drain on household finances, but it also becomes a barrier to wealth generation and transfer. To address this, the Pennsylvania legislature passed a rare bipartisan Senate Bill 1135: The Whole Home Repairs Act as part of its budget, dedicating $125 million to a program designed to provide home repair assistance to low income homeowners, a move that could serve as a model in other states.
Promising Homeownership and Housing Legislation
Bill: Senate Bill 202: An Act Concerning Property Tax Abatement for Certain First-Time Home Buyers Homeownership
Status: Referred by Senate to Committee on Finance, Revenue and Bonding
Summary: Authorizes municipalities to abate up to five hundred dollars per assessment year of property taxes for certain first-time homebuyers who obtain a loan from the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority.
Bill: Legislative Bill 196: Prohibit discrimination based on lawful source of income under the Nebraska Fair Housing Act
Status: Introduced and indefinitely postponed
Summary: Eliminates housing discrimination based on lawful source of income. LB196 defines lawful source of income to include income from social security, child support, foster care subsidies, alimony, veterans’ benefits, or any other form of federal, state, or local public general assistance or housing assistance.
State: New York
Bill: Senate Bill 2732A: Establishes the sustainable affordable housing incentive program
Status: Referred to the Senate Finance Committee
Summary: The Sustainable Affordable Housing Incentive program encourages and helps subsidize energy efficient and environmentally friendly multi-family residential projects throughout New York State, reducing the environmental impact of construction and building operation while simultaneously addressing the need for a sufficient number of safe, affordable housing units.
Bill: Senate Bill 24: Enact First-time Home Buyer Savings Act
Summary: Authorizes personal income tax deduction for contributions to and earnings on a first-time home buyer savings account that would decrease state personal income tax revenue beginning with tax year (TY) 2021 returns filed in FY 2022.
Bill: House Bill 2097: Changing the Definition of First-Time Home Buyer
Status: Returned to House Rules Committee for third reading
Summary: Expands the definition of a First-Time Home Buyer to 1) An individual the individual's spouse who has had no ownership in a principal residence during the three-year period ending on the date of purchase of the property, 2) A single parent who has only owned a home with a former spouse while married, 3) An individual who is a displaced homemaker and has only owned a home with a spouse, 4) individual who has only owned a principal residence not permanently affixed to a permanent foundation in accordance with applicable rules and regulations; or 5) An individual who has only owned a property that is discerned by a licensed building inspector as being uninhabitable.
While early pandemic aid such as stimulus funds helped lift millions of people out of poverty, many residents are still struggling with the impacts of COVID-19 underemployment and unemployment, and rising costs of household goods. A PEW study found that nearly 45 percent of respondents whose finances were negatively impacted by COVID-19 believe that it will take roughly three years to recover financially and 10 percent of respondents lost hope that their finances would ever recover.
TENNESSEE – As of Legislative Session 2021, 23 states have enacted plans to increase the minimum wage to $15 by 2027 and 18 states enacted plans to extend the minimum wage to agricultural, domestic and tipped workers. This legislative session, Tennessee enacted Senate Bill 2042: Salaries and Benefits which protects the minimum wage for employees whose earning or productive capacity is impaired by age, physical, or mental deficiency or injury.
Promising Financial Security Legislation
Bill: House Bill 675: Commerce: Provides relative to consumer credit loans and transactions
Summary: Limits all charges and fees assessed to $10 and prohibits a small loan provider from charging a fee not to exceed 36% interest annually.
Bill: House Bill 880: Employment/Wages-Minimum: Establishes a state minimum wage rate
Summary: Increases the state minimum wage to $15 by 2026.
Bill: House Bill 349/Senate Bill 452: Small Claims - Examination in Aid of Enforcement and Interrogatories in Aid of Execution – Prohibition
Status: Vetoed by the Governor
Summary: Prohibits a Court from ordering a debtor in a small claims action to answer interrogatories or appear for a deposition about their income and assets and will help prevent debtors from ending up in jail for a small debts.
Tax credits have been a significant relief for taxpayers and has helped lift households out of poverty during the pandemic. Georgia, Maryland and New Mexico passed critical tax credits this legislative session.
GEORGIA – Georgia is one of the many states that does not have a progressive tax rate, meaning that low- and moderate-income households often pay a larger share of their income in taxes than wealthier households. Georgia enacted House Bill 1302: Income Tax which creates a general, one-time tax credit for taxpayers who filed returns for both 2020 and 2021 taxable years. While the one-time tax credit does not make steps towards a progressive tax rate, the credit will bring temporary financial relief to Georgia tax filers.
MARYLAND – Maryland has a partially refundable Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and regulates paid tax preparers, which protects households from predatory tax preparers. Maryland enacted Senate Bill 369: Income Tax - Maryland Earned Income Tax Credit Assistance Program for Low-Income Families, which identifies residents who are eligible for EITC and simplifies the process for completion so that more households can claim the credit.
NEW MEXICO – New Mexico joins five other states who have enacted a refundable child tax credit (CTC). House Bill 163: Tax Changes is a CTC which refunds up to $175 per child. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities not only does the CTC help pay for household goods, but it also helps support child development and supports the state and local economy.
Promising Taxation Legislation
Bill: Assembly Bill 1515 Earned Income Tax Credit Outreach and Education and Free Tax Assistance Grant Program
Status: Passed the through the Assembly and assigned to the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance
Summary: Establishes the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Outreach and Education and Free Tax Assistance Grant Program which expands outreach for the EITC thereby increasing the number of tax credit filers and allocates additional money for the tax credit.
It is crucial that states implement policies like these to ensure that there is a foundation for transforming access to wealth-building. As we continue into legislative sessions next year, we hope to see more emphasis on pathways to homeownership, stronger supports for financial security and tax preparation programs.
While our legislative wrap-up focuses on three issue areas, please look through our more expansive list of 2022 Policy Priorities which showcase legislative recommendations to a build an economy that is just, fair and free from structural racism.
(* Publisher’s Note)