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Housing advocates call Young housing proposals a good start

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Advocates for affordable housing on Wednesday said a set of proposals from Sen. Todd Young would address several causes of Indiana’s housing shortage.

Young met with realtors in Indianapolis Wednesday as part of a weeklong tour promoting a trio of bipartisan legislative proposals meant to increase access to affordable housing.

His Neighborhood Homes Investment Act would provide a tax credit to offset the costs of fixing up a home in a low-income neighborhood and then selling it at a price people in the area could afford.

Applicants could only receive the credit if they sell to someone making less than 140% of the area’s median income. A companion bill would overhaul the Low Income Housing Tax Credit.

Additionally, Young’s Yes In My Backyard Act, or YIMBY Act, would require cities to publish all of the rules governing the zoning of residential areas if they want to continue receiving Community Development Block Grants.

“We just want to ensure they’re transparent decisions as local communities benefit handsomely from federal grants,” Young said. “And that’s all the YIMBY Act does. We think it would lead to a lot more transparency.”

A study last year by the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana found home ownership rates overall in Marion County have dropped by 7% since 2010. In communities of color, home ownership has dropped by 14%.

Indianapolis NAACP Vice President TyJuan Garrett says the inability to own a home limits the ability to build generational wealth, and makes it harder to keep a roof over one’s head.

Garrett says Young’s YIMBY Act might have the greatest impact of his proposals, and also face the toughest opposition.

He says zoning has long been used to limit or block entirely the development of affordable housing. If enacted, he said the measure could help undo some of that damage.

“The question always is, housing tends to be very local in nature and how those local zoning boards may push back on this type of legislation,” he said, adding it’s a good sign the bill, along with its companions, has sponsors from both parties.

Garrett says he was less sure about the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act.

Although it contains rules about who must buy such a home in order for the seller to qualify for the credit, Garrett says it could still lead to gentrification. He says there’s nothing to stop someone from selling such a home for a profit in a few years.

The Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership’s Rob Evans said Young has the right idea in trying to bring multiple solutions to bear on multiple causes of the housing crisis. He said the issue will be gathering enough support for his legislation.

“This is something that Sen. Young has been passionate about and the affordable housing community has wanted for quite some time, all of these bills, really,” he said. “The challenge for him will be to get that support to move these across the finish line.”

Evans says both of Young’s tax credit proposals will bring more financial resources to affordable housing, something that’s a top priority for his organization.