Press Release | Washington, DC | December 1, 2021

4,000 Supporters Urge Return of Historic Tax Credit to Biden Bill

Today, more than 4,000 preservation, historic rehabilitation, and community development advocates sent a signed letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA), urging that Historic Tax Credit (HTC) enhancements be added back into President Joe Biden’s infrastructure package, known as the Build Back Better bill.

The letter, organized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation along with the Historic Tax Credit Coalition, Preservation Action, National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers, National Housing and Rehabilitation Association, and the National Preservation Partners Network, outlines the track record of the HTC as a key revitalization tool for cities and towns around the country and asks Congressional leaders to build on this success by updating and modernizing the credit.

"This letter demonstrates the breadth and depth of support for the federal Historic Tax Credit across the country," said Paul Edmondson, President and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "As the largest federal investment in our nation’s historic infrastructure, the credit has become a critical tool in preserving the character and legacies of our communities by incentivizing and leveraging private investment. The proposed enhancements to the credit, which has not been revised since the 1980s, will enable more building rehabilitation in both large cities and small towns, making it even more valuable and more effective.”

“The Historic Tax Credit is a critical tool for neighborhood revitalization, enabling dormant community assets to be reinvigorated for current community needs. Financing the adaptive reuse of historic properties also allows for the ultimate recycling of existing buildings while also providing capital for climate-friendly upgrades," said Merrill Hoopengardner, Chair of the Historic Tax Credit Coalition and President of National Trust Community Investment Corp.

“Every day across the country, State Historic Preservation Officers review Historic Tax Credit projects and work with applicants to see their projects successfully complete the process with the National Park Service,” said Erik Hein, Executive Director of the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers. “They see first-hand how the credit brings deteriorating historic properties back to life to serve as affordable housing, businesses, and creative spaces. The proposed changes would provide greater access to this powerful incentive for smaller projects and communities nationwide.”

“The Historic Tax Credit is a vital economic development tool that breathes new life into communities across the country, often repurposing aging sites into assets like affordable housing,” said Thom Amdur, President of the National Housing and Rehabilitation Association. “Part of ‘Building Back Better’ is preserving and enhancing our nation’s historical places and encouraging building reuse to mitigate the impact of climate change; the Historic Tax Credit serves just that purpose and must be included in the budget reconciliation legislation.”

“For more than 40 years, the historic tax credit has helped revitalize communities throughout the country by taking advantage of an often overlooked part of our nation’s infrastructure – historic buildings,” said Russ Carnahan, President of Preservation Action, a national grassroots lobby for historic preservation. “Now, more than ever, it is important we update this incentive to support economic revitalization and job creation, sustainable and climate-friendly development, and the preservation of our historic resources. This letter demonstrates the collective reach and impact this vital incentive has across the country.”

“On Main Street, the Historic Tax Credit enables communities to prioritize existing local assets over landfills. The proposed enhancements expand this opportunity to give more buildings a second life and more communities a sustainable choice for development,” said Patrice Frey, President and CEO of Main Street America, a program of the National Main Street Center.

“Our organization's members - who spread across the country from communities big and small, urban and rural, and with economies across the spectrum of scale and success, uniformly and whole-heartedly urge support of efforts to enhance the federal historic tax credit. We are down in the trenches and have each personally experienced both the power of this incentive and the challenges it faces in the current climate,” said Nicholas A. Redding, Chair of the National Preservation Partners Network and Executive Director of Preservation Maryland. “This is a proven tool to grow the nation's economy, create housing, and revitalize communities. It puts people to work and catalyzes private investment. It works and will work better if enhancements are part of Build Back Better.”

In September, the House Ways and Means Committee passed six provisions to improve the HTC as part of its budget reconciliation recommendations. The provisions are similar to those included in the Historic Tax Credit Growth and Opportunity Act (S. 2266/H.R. 2294), bipartisan legislation introduced by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Darin LaHood (R-IL), Terri Sewell (D-AL), and Brian Higgins (D-NY) in the House and Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Susan Collins (R-ME) in the Senate.

The provisions will make long-overdue improvements to the HTC, spur more rehabilitation activity, expand the number of historic buildings eligible for the HTC, and help create more affordable housing.

Leading climate action voices point to building reuse as an important strategy for combatting the harmful effects of climate change. Reusing, adapting and rehabilitating historic buildings preserves embodied carbon, reduces toxic waste, and minimizes pollution from both shipping and the damage caused from extracting natural resources. Historic rehabilitation also redirects development pressure into areas with more density, utilizing our existing infrastructure and resulting in more public transit opportunities and more walkable communities. Attached is a summary on the background of the Historic Tax Credit and a description of the enhancements that should be a part of the current infrastructure legislation.

Link to Signed Letter Sent to Capitol Hill: https://savingplaces.org/htcsignon

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places.
SavingPlaces.org | @savingplaces

The National Trust's African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund has awarded $3 million in grants to 33 places preserving Black history.

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