Credit Enhancement for Housing

2023 Ideas Challenge Entry

Hawaii Senator Stanley Chang introduced legislation that would leverage funds to boost existing housing production programs. Each year, the state allocates funds to the Rental Housing Revolving Fund (RHRF), providing $177,000 per unit for 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) projects. Specifically, the bill would:

 – Guaranty Fund: Part of RHRF serves as collateral, securing loans from private lenders.

 – Interest Rate Reduction: The state leverages credit for lower interest rates.

 – Funds Stay with the State: Funds remain with the state rather than being transferred to borrowers.


The aim is to multiply housing projects.


Chang believes this legislation would enable three to four times as many housing projects while reducing risk and financial strain on the state. Given the current costs required to create one unit, reducing the impact of state subsidy per unit. This proposal will encourage the growth of the private lending industry rather than replace private sector lenders. Eventually, this will help create a critical mass of inexpensive housing.


2023 Ideas Challenge Entry

Hawaii has long grappled with a severe housing shortage. Median home prices on Oahu, the most populous island, have soared to over $1.15 million for single-family homes and $515,000 for condos. This unattainable cost of living has driven many residents to leave Hawaii, resulting in seven consecutive years of statewide population decline and more Native Hawaiians living away from their homeland than within it.


Hawaii Senator Stanley Chang introduced The ALOHA Homes Program (Affordable Locally Owned Homes for All) which would promote more dense construction, sold exclusively to Hawaii residents. Key components of the ALOHA Homes Program include affordable down payment assistance, promoting socioeconomic diversity and simplifying eligibility, self-sustaining funding as the State recoups its investment through unit sales, and transit-oriented development.


The ALOHA Homes program was signed into law as a pilot program in 2023. Chang hopes the program will create momentum for many more housing projects on state lands along the rail line, eventually creating the critical mass of inexpensive housing that will house Hawaii’s future population growth. The ALOHA Homes model is essentially the method that Singapore and Vienna use to house 82 percent and 60 percent of their populations, respectively, in attractive, desirable, well-maintained public housing.

Home Act/Rent Stabilization

2023 Ideas Challenge Entry

Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando authored the Housing Opportunity, Mobility, and Equity (HOME) Act that would protect tenants through rent stabilization, provide predictable housing costs, and help them stay in their homes over time, just like homeowners. The County Council approved renter regulations that balance the need to protect tenants with providing landlords with economic tools to maintain and build housing. Montgomery County is the first county in Maryland to establish permanent rent stabilization at a maximum cap of 6%.

The compromise bill that passed, Rent Stabilization, prevents rent gouging, reduces displacement, and creates cost predictability for tenants and landlords by:

 – Setting an annual rental increase allowance of CPI-U plus three percent, capped at a maximum of six percent;

 – Establish guidelines for fees and fee increases for regulated rental units;

 – Establishing provisions for the landlord to increase the rent above the cap and apply a surcharge for renovations; and

 – Defining a process for landlords to bank unused rental increase allowances.


The bill is already having an impact, sending a clear message that the county cares for renters and believes they should have sustainable housing with predictable costs. 

As the bill goes into effect, the county will monitor its implementation to ensure that it balances the need to protect tenants with providing landlords with economic tools to maintain and build housing. A protection or right is also only as good as it is known by the public, particularly those most impacted, and the next steps will include raising awareness among tenants and landlords about their rights and responsibilities.

Middle Income Housing Authority (MIHA)

2023 Ideas Challenge Entry

Colorado Senator Jeff Bridges’ advanced legislation to created the Middle Income Housing Authority (MIHA), an innovative tool to drive the development of affordable housing for middle-income folks. Colorado faces an acute shortage of “missing middle” housing, housing that is many working families, such as nurses, teachers, and firefighters. The program provides market-based incentives to leverage private capital and minimizes government investments. 

By treating middle-income housing like the infrastructure investment it is, MIHA represents a significant shift in addressing affordable housing by using a market-oriented approach driven by public-private partnerships. By leveraging tax-free municipal bonds and social impact investors, MIHA reduces reliance on government financing and creates a sustainable and scalable model that reinvests all profits into additional affordable housing. 

MIHA aims to increase the supply of rental housing. While developers may get a higher return by building market-rate housing, they pay significant taxes on those returns. By allowing access to the same kinds of tax-free bonds used to finance other infrastructure investments, developers using tax-free bonds for MIHA projects will see roughly equal returns. This drives investment in middle-income housing without competing for government dollars that should go toward low-income housing subsidies.


Success will be measured by the number of affordable housing units built for middle-income earners, especially in our mountain resort communities and in gentrifying neighborhoods where long-established communities are being pushed out by increased housing costs. While currently focused on rental housing, the success of this unique financial model should allow for the construction of for-sale MIHA housing as well. Over the next two years the initial six projects representing several hundred new housing units will demonstrate what works best, where it works, and why it works. The long term goal is to show a measurable decrease in the number of middle-income individuals and families across Colorado who are cost burdened, alongside a measurable increase in the supply of housing units that are affordable for those families.

Community Safety Housing Subsidy

2023 Ideas Challenge Entry

Atlanta City Councilmember Amir Farokhi championed the Community Safety Housing Subsidy program to address the rising cost of living in Atlanta and the challenge of attracting and retaining police and fire first responders. He hopes to combat these obstacles by setting aside $500,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds to offset the cost of first-responder personnel living within the city limits. Moreover, the program seeks to facilitate neighborly and voluntary interactions between first responders and those they protect for the purpose of reducing crime, building trust, and increasing public safety.

Funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis and are intended for monthly rent assistance. Recipients are required to be on active duty and complete 1 hour of unpaid community service per month. The amount of rental assistance will be on a sliding scale from $250 to $850 based on yearly income.


The program started accepting applications in 2023 and will measure its impact on several metrics including:

 1) More first responders choosing to live in the City

 2) Reduced attrition among first responders who are in year 1-10 of their service

 3) An increase in applications to public safety positions

 4) Increased trust in public safety officials and departments

 5) Reduction in crime.

Inequity Analysis of City of Las Vegas Fines & Fees

2023 Ideas Challenge Entry

Las Vegas City Councilmember Brian Knudsen is leading the assessment and update of code enforcement fines and fees related to equitability based on location and population. Knudsen aims to address the negative impacts of fines and fees on residents, particularly in neighborhoods with high code violations. The proposed study focuses on homeowners who violate property codes and aims to understand the root causes of high violation areas and the inequities associated with fines and fees. The city plans to analyze data before, during, and after the implementation of the SHIFT Program (Safe Home Improvements Funding and Training program), which provides funds and resources to assist eligible households in bringing their homes into compliance with municipal codes. The city has identified neighborhoods with high code violations and inequities, such as high numbers of a particular ethnicity, elderly homeowners, and disabled homeowners. The study aims to achieve a reduction in code violation debt, increased participation in the SHIFT program, and culturally competent financial education for communities in need, thus lowering the average overall debt in underserved areas of the city.  



The study was selected for being funded through the National League of Cities via their CAFFE (Cities Addressing Fines and Fees Equitably) grant. The study is currently underway looking into how the SHIFT program will be used, and will aid in counting overall citation amounts in identified areas of high code violations. Coupling this with policy changes to eliminate double permit fees for those not in code compliance will ultimately lead to consumer savings in underserved areas.

From Parking Lot to Housing

2023 Ideas Challenge Entry

Faced with a shortage of affordable housing and an ambitious goal to develop 10,000 new affordable units by 2030, Fairfax County Supervisor James Walkinshaw has worked aggressively to convert vacant and underutilized county-owned land to affordable housing. Working in partnership with the county’s housing authority, non-profit affordable housing developers, and the private sector, the transfer of county-owned land can make possible projects that would otherwise be too expensive due to the significant cost of land acquisition in Northern Virginia. The county has also utilized federal COVID funds on several recent projects.

The conversion of surface parking to housing, community space, and child care will have economic, social, and environmental benefits.


Success will be measured by progress toward the goal of creating 10,000 new affordable units in Fairfax County by 2030. Recently, the Board of Supervisors approved Residences at Government Center II, which when complete will deliver 279 units of housing affordable to families earning 30% to 70% of the area median income, and more than 100 child-care slots for low and moderate-income families on what is now an underutilized parking lot in front of the county’s main government center building.

Renters’ Right to Counsel Program

2023 Ideas Challenge Entry

The City of St. Louis is grappling with a housing affordability crisis, where nearly 60% of renter households pay an average monthly rent of $951. Although there was a slight dip in eviction during the pandemic, eviction filings have increased year over year and are more than twice as common in majority-black census tracts compared to majority-white ones.

As part of her broad initiative to provide families with a safe and stable roof over their heads, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones launched the Right to Counsel program (RTC) to provide access to legal services for tenants facing eviction proceedings. She utilized $685,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to establish the program, ensuring St. Louis renters have access to legal services for tenants facing eviction and the ability to access the Missouri court system, regardless of income level. This bill demonstrates Jones’ commitment to strengthening tenant protections and reducing housing instability in the communities. 



Mayor Jones signed the new ordinance into law in July 2023, and the city is currently distributing funds to several legal aid service providers across the city to serve ZIP codes with the highest rates of eviction. Additionally, the city is working to hire a program coordinator housed within the St. Louis Department of Human Services that will oversee the program’s implementation. Board Bill 59 also requires landlords to provide tenants with information regarding the availability of the program.


Affordable Housing Incentives

2023 Ideas Challenge Entry

At the beginning of 2023, Las Vegas City Councilmember Brian Knudsen and the Las Vegas City Council adopted an ordinance formalizing incentives for affordable housing. This created a process by which incentives can be offered to all developers during the application process. Incentives help to offset rising costs, stretch funding received for affordable housing from the state and federal government, and take risks associated with uncertainty away from developers and developments. Incentives include: expedited plan reviews, density bonuses, height bonuses, and permit fee reductions, which are all tied to a percentage of units being set aside as affordable.


The city expects to see similar results to these incentives seven in peer cities (Austin, Denver, Virginia Beach, Nashville, Sacramento, Seattle, and Orlando), which resulted in 5% affordable housing units to total units built.


Speaker of the Maine House Ryan Fecteau: Reforming Zoning and Land Use in Municipalities

This week, NewDEAL Leader Speaker of the Maine House Ryan Fecteau is championing a new effort to combat the state’s affordable housing shortage through ending zoning regulations. Among other provisions, his bill would require localities to let private property owners build up to four housing units on their land, rather than restricting them to single-family homes. Fecteau’s goal is to not only quadruple the number of new affordable housing units built in Maine each year from 250 units to 1,000, but also ensure that those affordable housing developments will remain affordable for the next 30 years. Read more about Speaker Fecteau’s bill, which has wide bipartisan support. And for more on solutions for the housing crisis, register to join experts and NewDEAL Leaders for our March 16 virtual event “Implementing the Recovery: Improving Access to Affordable Housing”.