Congress should look to housing act

Legislation would incentivize much-needed donations to greek organizations with housing issues.

One of the oldest and most iconic parts of the University of Minnesota campus is “fraternity row” on University Avenue Southeast, home to some greek organizations that have been on campus for more than a century. 

Fraternity Chi Psi has owned its space on University Avenue since 1884, President Jacob Lutz told the Minnesota Daily, and the fraternity’s current house, a historic landmark, was built in 1930.

Old houses often present various challenges in terms of upkeep, but University fraternities also face the predicament of following the strict rules of their historical landmark status.

Some University fraternities rely on donations from alumni to partially fund upkeep, but current tax laws prevent more money from coming in. Those who donate to greek housing funds cannot use their donations as tax write-offs.

This would change if Congress passes the Collegiate Housing Infrastructure Act, a bill that would amend the Internal Revenue Service code so that donations to not-for-profit housing would be tax-deductible.

A House committee report found that found that these tax breaks would total $148 million in the next decade, the Minnesota Daily reported. The report also estimated that the greek community nationwide needs more than $1 billion in housing improvements.

It makes sense to allow donations to not-for-profit housing to be tax-deductible. The IRS already allows donations to similar groups to be tax-deductible, and there is a clear need among the nation’s fraternities and sororities for upkeep funding.

At the University alone, the Greek Community Strategic Task Force Report estimated that $13 million to $20 million is needed to ensure greek housing is safe and up to code.

The government has an interest in incentivizing housing donations for historic landmarks, and it should reflect this interest in the tax code.