Equity and Ownership in Affordable Housing

49 Pages Posted: 9 Apr 2024

See all articles by Adam Cowing

Adam Cowing

University of California, Irvine School of Law

Date Written: April 8, 2024


The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (“LIHTC”) is the nation’s largest affordable housing development program. From its inception, policymakers have seen the program’s potential path to homeownership as one of its advantages. In fact, the Internal Revenue Code anticipates tenant and cooperative purchases of LIHTC-financed affordable housing. But the program has never achieved significant homeownership for low-income families. Meanwhile, residents in increasing numbers of LIHTC developments face instability related to investor acquisitions of rental housing and the expiration of restrictions that keep rents affordable—instability that resident ownership could prevent. This Article explores why LIHTC has not achieved greater homeownership opportunities and describes how one model could finally expand eventual tenant ownership in the program. This would not only improve housing security but enable low-income families to build wealth, representing a step toward equity in federal housing policy. At the same time, the limits of this model reflect limits to federal housing policy’s approach to assisting low-income families, relative to the benefits available to higher income families.

Keywords: affordable housing, tax credit, equity, homeownership, low-income housing tax credit, housing, eventual tenant ownership

Suggested Citation

Cowing, Adam, Equity and Ownership in Affordable Housing (April 8, 2024). 2024 U. Ill. L. Rev. 399 (2024), UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2024-10, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4788029

Adam Cowing (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

401 E. Peltason Dr.
Ste. 1000
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States

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