Study to Inform Housing Tax Credit Allocations
The Georgia Health Policy Center in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University announced today that it will conduct a community development health impact assessment to optimize the impact of housing tax credit investments on the health of families and neighborhoods in Georgia.
The assessment is a tool to help policymakers identify the likely health impacts of a decision in another field, in this case, Georgia’s low-income housing tax credit plan. This study will assess how the criteria for allocating tax credits affects housing for vulnerable populations and community development, with the goal of improving the wellness of communities at the forefront.
“This study will be at the lead of an emerging field, connecting health to community development,” said Elizabeth Fuller, associate project director at the policy center.
The location and design of housing can affect a community’s health by determining residents’ access to healthy foods, opportunities for physical activity, and exposure to air or noise pollution. Georgia has an opportunity to improve the health of all residents by incorporating these health determinants into the statewide tax credit scoring criteria.
“Lack of financial resources makes it challenging, if not impossible, for individuals and communities to achieve optimal health, as research shows. Yet, understanding how to adjust financial policies in order to achieve the greatest positive impact on the health of vulnerable populations is still a work in progress,” said Fuller. “A health impact assessment will enable us to begin to understand some solutions to that issue as it relates to the allocation of low-income housing tax credits in Georgia.”
Each year, the Internal Revenue Service allocates housing tax credits to state agencies, which then award the credits to developers of qualified projects—new construction or significant renovation of residential communities, including homes for low-income populations. The state agency must develop a plan for allocating the credits.
Federal law requires that the plan give priority to projects that serve the lowest income families and are structured to remain affordable for the longest period of time.
“We are very pleased to partner with the GHPC in this project, which will provide us with another tool to strengthen our understanding of the low-income community needs around affordable housing,” said Carmen Chubb, deputy commissioner for housing at Department of Community Affairs. “Each year we strive to incorporate the best information available, and the results from this partnership should allow us to more closely tailor the Qualified Allocation Plan for 2015 to further benefit the health needs of Georgia’s most vulnerable citizens.”
Findings and recommendations from the assessment will be provided to Department of Community Affairs in the fall of 2014. The health policy center will also be providing technical assistance and evaluation support to two other teams working to include health in community development-related decisions in Hartford, Conn. and Massachusetts.
The Georgia Health Policy Center at Georgia State University provides evidence-based research, program development, and policy guidance for complex issues facing health and health care today. We work locally, statewide, and nationally to improve health at the community level. Visit www.gsu.edu/ghpc to learn more.
This HIA is supported by a contract from the Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts.