What Can We Learn About the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program by Looking at the Tenants?

Katherine M. O'Regan, Keren M. Horn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using tenant-level data from 18 states that represent almost 40% of all Low-Income Housing Tax Credit units, this article examines tenant incomes, rental assistance, and rent burdens to shed light on key questions about our largest federal supply-side affordable housing program. Specifically, what are the incomes of the tenants, and does this program reach those with extremely low incomes? What rent burdens are experienced, and is economic diversity within developments achieved? We find that approximately 45% of tenants have extremely low incomes, and the overwhelming majority of such tenants also receive some form of rental assistance. Rent burdens are lower than that for renters with similar incomes nationally but generally higher than that presumed for housing programs of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Rent burdens vary greatly by income level and are lowered by the sizable share of owners who charge below federal maximum rents. Finally, we find evidence of both economically diverse developments and those with concentrations of households with extremely low incomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)597-613
Number of pages17
JournalHousing Policy Debate
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2013


  • affordability
  • low-income housing
  • policy
  • tax credit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Urban Studies
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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