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Studying Outcomes of the Low-income Housing Tax Credit program


  • As thousands of rent restrictions end, concerns for low-income renters rose.
  • Abt analyzed and created a property database for HUD.
  • The study found most properties remained affordable.
The Challenge

More than 2 million units of rental housing have been developed through the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, making it the largest housing production program in U.S. history. As thousands of properties hit the 15-year mark—ending the initial compliance period for income and rent restrictions—questions arose about the consequences for low-income renters.

The Approach

Abt assembled and analyzed data from state housing finance agencies that administer the program for a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) database. The database and associated reports show the locations and characteristics of properties placed in the program. Abt helped HUD implement the database, which will include household and property-level data. Abt researchers also studied how the plans state agencies use to allocate tax credits affect the locations of affordable rental housing.

The Results

Abt’s review of records of LIHTC properties placed in service from 1987 through 1995 and interviews with industry found that worries about the fate of the more than 1 million tax credit units that will reach year 15 by 2020 were largely unjustified. The vast majority of properties reaching year 15 provide affordable housing without needing major recapitalization, while some properties remain affordable after recapitalization. This meant a new housing program for previous beneficiaries was not needed.