The Low Income Housing Tax Credit Deserves Credit

Critics of the low-income housing tax credit ("Low-income housing: Is there a better way?" Social Issues, June 22) apparently have not visited Dudley Street in Roxbury (Boston) recently, or the South Bronx, or Miami, or any number of cities across the country where private investment has returned, along with hope and opportunity.

In areas like Dudley Street, areas that have epitomized urban neglect and decay and conjured up images of vacant and abandoned housing, rubble-strewn streets, and row upon row of crack houses, there is a new reality. Community-based developers are creating new and bustling neighborhoods that are turning vacant lots and abandoned buildings into affordable housing, attracting private investment, and creating jobs and opportunity.

Through the efforts of nonprofit and for-profit developers, together with local governments, thousands of units of affordable housing have been developed, businesses flourish, and hope has returned. Critically important to the success of these efforts has been the attraction of private investment dollars. Long perceived as too risky, affordable-housing development has been transformed into a prudent investment by the tax credit. The rehabilitation and new construction has given moribund communities a vibrancy that attracts additional private investment. Vouchers are unable to perform this function.

Dozens of this nation's most distressed communities are in the midst of remarkable transformations. But those transformations are in danger of being halted in their tracks because of the uncertainty surrounding the tax credit. Permanent extension is crucial.

Raymond L. Flynn, Mayor