Advocacy Highlight: REHAB Act

The REHAB Act is a piece of legislation derived from LOCUS members’ identification of market barriers to delivering transit-oriented development (TOD) at scale. This transformative piece of legislation has the potential to address the barriers to redevelopment in legacy cities, encouraging grassroots solutions to the delivery of attainable housing, fostering the development of vibrant, mixed-use neighborhoods. Many LOCUS developers regularly utilize federal tax credits, such as the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, New Markets Tax Credits and Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives. However, a gap exists for federal tax credits directly related to delivering TOD. REHAB is also unique in that it can be utilized both for improvements related to building renovation and for improvements related to infrastructure, public realm and transit connectivity, all of which are critical for delivering TOD which complements its surrounding urban context.

The REHAB Act—Revitalizing Economies, Housing, And Businesses Act—is a bipartisan bill that would create a federal tax credit to support redeveloping old (but non-historic) buildings near public transportation. Projects that provide new units of affordable housing or invest in public infrastructure—like better bus stops, new street lighting, sidewalks, bike lanes, rain gardens, street repaving—get a bigger tax credit. It’s a simple, straightforward way to help encourage new housing and businesses in the downtowns and other walkable areas where people want to be.

Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3), Dan Kildee (D-MI-5), Darin LaHood (R-IL-18), and Mike Kelly (R-PA-16) have introduced the REHAB Act in the U.S. House (HR 6175). This legislation, if passed, will help spur private investment in affordable housing and public infrastructure in the places where it’s needed most: walkable, transit-connected places.

Our research has shown that despite the increasing demand for walkable communities nationwide, the supply of these areas remains stagnant. Single-family housing and large lots persist predominantly throughout neighborhoods, which exacerbates our reliance on automobiles. Today, new development is dramatically skewed towards sprawling suburbs on the fringes of town far from jobs and affordable transportation.

But a new bill in Congress will boost infill and redevelopment in cities and towns across the country to help create more housing and economic growth in walkable, transit-connected areas.

The REHAB Act is one effort to correct this imbalance by supporting attainable housing, mixed-use development, and space for businesses in the many walkable areas—or places with the potential to be more walkable—that already exist all across the U.S. 

This legislation can help provide the financing to local builders that is critical to closing the gap so they can help revitalize downtowns, upgrade deteriorating public infrastructure, and expand access to attainable housing. 

Learn more about the REHAB Act here