Advocacy update on State Historic Tax Credits and other important legislation

State Historic Tax Credits Update

Thursday night, PRC members and friends toured two exciting preservation projects in Gretna, both of which were made possible by Louisiana’s Commercial Tax Credit. Better known as the State Historic Tax Credit, this popular, flexible program was able to catalyze those projects when the Federal Historic Tax Credit could not.

The same night in Baton Rouge, however, the Louisiana Senate Finance Committee declined to take up a bill extending the State Historic Tax Credit beyond 2021, ending any chance of passing the bill this year. Though disappointing, this was not an attack on the program. The committee opted not to advance any bills likely to impact the state’s finances beyond the current budget term.

It now becomes imperative that lawmakers take up the issue at their next special session or biennial fiscal session. Preservation Resource Center will continue working with our colleagues in the Historic Tax Credit Coalition to educate returning and incoming legislators on the incredible economic returns on this state investment in cultural heritage.

At Beams & Brews on Thursday, PRC members and friends toured two preservation projects in Gretna made possible by Louisiana’s Commercial Tax Credit: the St. Joseph Church and a nearby double shotgun house. The state credit was able to catalyze these projects when the Federal Historic Tax Credit could not.

 

Bringing vacant homes back to life

Still viable at the state capital is a pair of companion bills introduced by Senator Troy Carter (SB 79 and 80) and scheduled for debate in the House June 2. PRC has followed this legislation through a series of amendments. What began as a laudable attempt to allow the City of New Orleans to freeze property taxes for homeowners struggling to remain in gentrifying neighborhoods was expanded. The bills now allow the city to freeze property taxes on vacant and blighted homes being restored for affordable housing.

This is a commonsense strategy for a city with more than 30,000 vacant residences. The city collects little taxes on vacant and blighted property, so the cost to New Orleans is minimal. But the future savings could make all the difference for an aspiring homeowner.

PRC encourages the House to pass this measure so we can continue working with the city and stakeholders to design a transparent and effective program. Voters will then get to approve or reject the plan this fall. Please ask your representative to support the measure. Find their contact information here, or use this simple online form provided by the Fair Housing Action Center, which allows you to customize your email.

Nathan Lott is the Preservation Resource Center’s Advocacy Coordinator and Public Policy Research Director. He can be reached at nlott@prcno.org