Next up is Ali Solis, the senior vice president of public policy and external affairs for Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. Ali will team up with an impressive set of speakers to discuss the Low Income Housing Tax Credit on the afternoon of Tuesday, September 16. Check out her thoughts on the BPC recommendation to increase the LIHTC by 50 percent and how she is inspired to work to improve the odds for the 19 million families facing housing insecurity in our country.
The Housing Summit will attract attendees from all segments of the housing industry. In a sentence or two, please describe what you do.
Enterprise is a national organization that believes opportunity starts with a good home that you can afford. We create and advocate for affordable homes in thriving communities linked to jobs, good schools, health care and transportation. Working with partners across the country, we raise capital to invest in housing and healthy communities. We support innovative local solutions to address the housing crisis and promote the use of replicable models. Enterprise is a public policy leader, conducting policy development, research and advocacy at all levels of government to ultimately help the millions of families struggling to keep a roof over their heads.
When did you become interested in housing, and why?
While working at W.R. Grace in one of their manufacturing facilities, I got the chance to see first hand the everyday struggles and choices facing our nation’s service related workforce. Many families were living doubled up in crowded and unsafe housing conditions, and the only meal the parents had was the one they ate at the plant. Sadly, there are over 19 million people paying more than half of their incomes towards housing which doesn’t leave much for basic necessities like food, clothes, medicine, gas, etc. I vowed then that given the opportunity I would pursue a career that would allow me to make a meaningful difference in solving these issues through public-private partnerships.
What is the most critical housing issue that we should be paying attention to today?
Our most pressing immediate need is to tackle the housing insecurity that nearly 19 million families are struggling with every day. We must also begin to prepare the policy environment and the built environment to address the increasing demand for affordable housing anticipated from the country’s changing demographics. To respond to these twin challenges, we must raise awareness of the housing insecurity crisis (a task made more difficult by reporting that claims the single family housing crisis is behind us) and elevate its importance on the nation’s agenda. Simultaneously, we must rebalance our federal housing policies to ensure there is an adequate supply of affordable homes for lease and ownership, and, finally, we must continue to provide a safety net for our most vulnerable populations so they have access to stable homes in thriving communities.
Your panel discussion will address the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. What, in particular, do you hope to see addressed in the discussion or during the Q&A period?
We strongly support an expansion of the Housing Credit as a part of the solution to ending our housing crisis. I’d like to explore in more detail the BPC’s proposal to increase the Housing Credit by 50 percent over time, as well as other vehicles to expand the credit (e.g. converting private activity bond cap). In addition, I would like to discuss the current proposals under consideration by Congress to create permanent minimum Housing Credit rates in order to make the development of affordable housing more financially feasible.
If you were planning a housing summit, who would be your dream keynote speaker? Why?
The new HUD Secretary Julián Castro came from a working family who struggled with the everyday choices that many working families are dealing with today. As an elected official, he created local solutions to help address the housing crisis. It seems fitting to hear his vision for how he plans to bring those experiences to Washington, D.C. and help truly elevate the housing crisis and advance solutions. However, what would be most powerful to see would be a commitment from our commander in chief, the President of the United States, to work with the bipartisan leadership of the Congress along with the private and philanthropic sectors to set a goal of ending the housing insecurity crisis once and for all.