In the United States, many individuals and families with low incomes struggle to find and afford rental housing because of a limited supply of options, skyrocketing costs, and stagnating wages. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these issues, leading to job and income losses for millions of Americans. Innovative policy solutions, including ones inspired from abroad, can improve housing stability for renters by addressing key affordability challenges. An employer payroll tax from France offers an effective strategy for financing affordable rental housing because of its history of success, straightforward application, and ease of translation to US tax policy and existing housing program structures and administration. In this brief, we discuss the US rental housing challenge, review the history and application of France’s employer payroll tax, and identify trade-offs for policymakers interested in implementing a similar policy in the US to consider.
This brief is part of a larger project that explores how innovative policies and programs from abroad can inform state and local efforts in the US to advance an inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Resources from the full project are available at https://urbn.is/lessons.