For millions of Americans, housing costs rank with health care, student debt, and taxes when it comes to issues that affect their personal budget.
Unlike those other three, however, housing hasn’t gotten much attention from presidential candidates.
That could be changing. As Democratic hopefuls vie to stand out in a crowded field and appeal to urban voters stressed by rising rents, more candidates are bringing up housing on the campaign trail.
Senator Elizabeth Warren has called for $500 billion in additional spending on affordable housing, and Senator Kamala Harris’s plan to offer tax credits for renters and $100 billion to help would-be home buyers in redlined neighborhoods. Senator Cory Booker wants to shift more federal transportation spending to cities that build more housing, while Julian Castro — secretary of Housing and Urban Development under former president Barack Obama — says he would dramatically expand voucher programs for low-income renters. Just last week, Senator Amy Klobuchar joined in, rolling out a housing plan with an range of smaller-bore programs, such as using federal funds to encourage local zoning reform, and ensuring that tenants facing eviction have access to a lawyer.
The Trump administration, too, is signaling plans to move on housing. Last month, it created a White House task force to review zoning rules and other regulations that housing experts across the political spectrum say make it harder to build and cause costs to keep going up.
All this housing talk is welcome by Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, who is long used to seeing her issue largely ignored on the campaign trail. The coalition is hosting housing town halls in Iowa and New Hampshire and hearing a lot from candidates with big ideas about how to make homes more affordable.
“The scale of the solutions being talked about matches the scale of the crisis, which is new,” Yentel said. “For decades, we’ve had politicians wanting to tinker around the edges in housing. These are proposals that want to address it head on.”
The interest, she said, is a reflection of the growing severity of a housing crunch that’s squeezing more and more Americans by the month.
The high cost of housing emerges as a presidential campaign issue
By Tim Logan
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