What Are Housing Bonds?

What Are Housing Bonds?

3 Min.

Housing bonds are a type of debt security that is issued by state or local governments to fund affordable housing development projects. They are a form of municipal revenue bonds that provide the government with low-cost financing and offer tax benefits to lenders, particularly those in higher tax brackets. Mortgages provided through housing bonds are restricted to first-time homebuyers earning no more than the area median income, and the cost of the home purchased cannot exceed 90% of the average area purchase price.


Municipal debt securities, known as housing bonds, constitute a distinctive financial instrument. These bonds are specifically issued by state or local government bodies with the aim of garnering financial support for the advancement of affordable housing development projects.

Exploring Housing Bonds

Housing bonds, a financial tool employed by state and local governments, serve as a means to fund affordable housing construction or refurbishment projects. These bonds encompass both principal repayment and interest obligations, with potential necessity for voter endorsement, offering both short- and long-term options.

Municipal authorities, seeking to amass resources for various undertakings, employ two primary forms of municipal bonds: general obligation (GO) and revenue bonds. General obligation bonds rely on the financial resources of the state or local government, drawing on their taxing authority to fulfill payment responsibilities. These bonds possess the backing of the government's full faith and credit. In contrast, revenue bonds hinge on projected project-generated revenue streams. Housing bonds fall into the category of revenue bonds.

Recognized as private activity bonds (PABs), housing bonds extend funding to qualified profit and nonprofit developers, supporting low-income multifamily and senior housing initiatives. Furthermore, these bonds enable the provision of low-cost mortgage financing, facilitating homeownership for low-income individuals and families.

Housing Bond Criteria

Housing bond mortgages cater exclusively to first-time homebuyers with earnings below the local median income. These mortgages limit home purchase prices to 90% of the regional average.

Housing bonds offer favorable interest rates and can take the form of either fixed or variable-rate demand obligations (VRDO). Payments to bondholders, encompassing both principal and interest, derive from dedicated mortgage repayments and investment returns. Borrower mortgage repayments are gathered by the housing bond trustee, who manages short-term investments until bondholders' interest payments are due. In essence, the reliability of housing bond payments hinges on timely and consistent interest and principal repayments from mortgage borrowers.

Advantages of Housing Bonds

Housing bonds yield advantages for both the government and private investors. Government entities secure substantial, cost-effective funding while offering appealing tax benefits to high-income lenders.

For investors, housing bond interest payments enjoy federal and, sometimes, state income tax exemptions. This tax exemption becomes increasingly valuable with higher marginal tax rates, benefiting investors in elevated federal tax brackets. Although alternative minimum tax (AMT) may apply to some investors, the exemption proves advantageous for those in higher tax brackets, compensating for the bonds' lower interest rates.

Additionally, federal low-income housing tax credits offer an alternative or supplementary funding source for affordable housing projects. These nonrefundable federal income tax credits subsidize a portion of the annual mortgage interest paid by eligible home buyers.


Housing bonds are a vital financial tool for state and local governments to fund affordable housing projects. They provide low-cost financing for governments and tax benefits for high-income lenders. Housing bond criteria focus on first-time homebuyers with limited incomes, capping home purchase prices at 90% of the local average. These bonds offer competitive interest rates and flexibility in structure, benefiting both the public and private sectors in their pursuit of affordable housing initiatives.

Housing Bond
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