To laymen, the affordable-housing industry has long been mired in regulatory complexity. But institutional investors, especially banks, have figured out that tax credits - the "carrot" established by Congress in 1986 to facilitate construction and rehabilitation of privately owned affordable rental housing-are an increasingly attractive investment.

Though yields on housing credits have fallen to historic lows, they remain more than 300 basis points higher than comparable long-term, fixed- income investments.

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