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Housing is a human right.
Housing is also a platform to opportunity, something I know through personal experience, through data, and through the stories of the many people I have met in my 11 years of public service. As Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama administration, I led a team of 8,000 employees and managed a $48 billion annual budget to create a stronger platform that would lift people out of poverty and into the middle class.
At HUD, we worked to end homelessness, we made homeownership more available and affordable for all families, we worked to make sure all HUD homes were healthy homes, we made more housing opportunities available for returning citizens, we expanded fair housing, we required federally-funded homeless shelters to open their doors to transgender individuals seeking shelter that conforms to their identity, and we worked to connect families in public housing to low-cost, high-speed internet.
Solving the Rental Affordability Crisis and Ending Homelessness
Making Rents More Affordable
To help folks cover skyrocketing rent prices, I would combine the traditional Housing Choice Voucher program that serves lower-income folks with a new renters’ tax credit to give relief to middle-income folks. The vouchers will help to stabilize those who need to get their feet under them, and the tax credit will help to move renters into homeownership where they can create intergenerational wealth.
1. Expand and Reform the Housing Choice Voucher Program
The housing choice voucher program is designed to target families with the highest need and to increase housing mobility, help deconcentrate poverty, and combat racial segregation. However, too many families in need are left out of this critical assistance. Right now, only 25% of eligible families receive vouchers, and the program is defined so narrowly that many more are waiting for help. My plan would:
2. Create a Renters’ Tax Credit
Many low- and middle-income renters are ineligible for the Housing Choice Voucher program, but, because prices in many markets are skyrocketing, they are still struggling to pay rent. According to one recent study, a renter earning the federal minimum wage would need to work 122 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom rental home and 99 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom rental home. In 2017, one in four renters paid more than 30 percent of their monthly income in rent. My plan would:
3. Increase the Supply of Affordable Housing
4. Reform local zoning reforms that inhibit affordable housing development:
End Homelessness in the United States
Providing Fair Housing to All Americans and Aligning Housing Policy with Climate Goals
Discrimination in housing is nothing new. For centuries, many Americans have been prevented from finding quality, affordable housing because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, legal status, or disability. Additionally, historically discriminatory practices like redlining, limiting access to credit, or stacking housing-assisted families in high rises have left our neighborhoods racially segregated and prevented many from obtaining housing opportunity.
We made tremendous progress in 1968 with the passage of the Fair Housing Act, groundbreaking legislation that has helped to reduce barriers to housing opportunities for Americans of all different backgrounds. Five decades later, the Fair Housing Act remains critically important to our efforts to prevent housing discrimination—but we must go further. We must strengthen enforcement of our fair housing laws. We must do more to make sure housing is accessible to our seniors and those with disabilities. We must do more ensure that Americans are not prevented from obtaining housing because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We must protect against gentrification as we work to revitalize our neighborhoods. And we must do more to desegregate our neighborhoods, which will also lead to desegregation of our children’s schools.
However, in recent years we’ve taken steps backward. Rather than working to eliminate housing discrimination, the Trump administration froze a landmark rule passed during my time at HUD to ensure all communities had the resources needed to overcome historic segregation.
My People First Housing plan calls for a redoubling of our efforts to crack down on discriminatory housing practices, to desegregate our neighborhoods, to foster inclusive communities, and to ensure our housing goals are climate-conscious.
Providing Fair Housing for All Americans
Beginning by re-implementing the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule to help communities accurately measure and reduce racial disparities in housing, and protecting the rights of women, LGBTQ individuals.
Aligning Housing and Community Planning Policy with Climate Goals
The climate-driven natural disasters of this era demand a proactive plan for our nation’s infrastructure and zoning, as well as a defensive plan to rebuild following damaging storms.
Boost Homeownership and Hold Wall Street Accountable
Part of the American Dream is to own a home — a place where we raise our kids and make meals, where we study and relax, and where we gather for celebrations and find comfort amongst family members. Owning a home not only opens the doors of opportunity, it spurs intergenerational wealth and provides millions of Americans with a sense of community and belonging.
But for far too many, the dream of owning a home has been out of reach. Stagnant wages, limited access to credit, and economic uncertainty stemming from the Great Recession has made homeownership more and more difficult for millions of Americans. Families across the country are doubling up in relatives’ homes, college graduates are returning home to live with their parents, and the increasing cost of rental housing is keeping families stuck in a cycle.
As HUD Secretary under President Obama, we worked everyday to help more Americans realize their dream of homeownership, and to ensure those who are struggling to pay their mortgages could stay in their homes. But we can do more. My plan would help more families get the credit they need to mortgage a home, would provide support for those who are housing insecure, would increase homeownership and rental literacy, and boost accountability, transparency, and oversight of Wall Street’s housing practices to ensure more families can stay in their homes.
Homeownership increases intergenerational wealth and economic mobility — in other words, it’s good for our economy. Encouraging responsible borrowers to become homeowners by reducing the barriers to homeownership is particularly impactful for communities of color, young people, and others who have historically been locked out of this critical economic opportunity. I want more folks to have that opportunity. Here’s how I would increase homeownership: