Affordable Housing and the Next Election
The democratic debate on September 12th focused on a field of presidential hopefuls that is now narrowed down. Many groups and individuals across the United States with an interest in affordable housing watched the debate in hopes of a mention of the candidates’ stances on the topic.
Unfortunately, as with the other two televised debates, there were no questions and no discussion raised related to the current affordable housing crisis. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s “The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes 2019”, “no state has an adequate supply of affordable rental housing for the lowest income renters.” The middle class has also begun to feel the squeeze of housing affordability. Housing affordability will be a major issue that the current and/or next president will need to address now and in the coming years.
Even though the topic was not discussed in the recent debates, some of the democratic candidates have ideas (and even proposed bills) about potential solutions.
Cory Booker’s plan involves a renter’s credit to anyone paying over 30% of their before-tax income, a “Baby Bonds” savings account for every child, amends zoning laws and provides funding to the Housing Trust Fund to build more new rental units nationwide.
Julian Castro, who was the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development during the Obama administration, has detailed a comprehensive plan including more funding to the Housing Trust Fund, expanding the housing voucher program, establishing a renter’s tax credit and zoning reform.
Kamala Harris plans to address redlining, which involves the systematic denial of mortgage loans to certain “undesirable” communities, by offering down payment and closing cost assistance to residents of redlined areas. She also intends to fight discrimination in lending and public housing arenas, as well as provide potential homeowners with more education about home buying.
Elizabeth Warren has already introduced American Housing and Economic Mobility Act into the Senate and successfully encouraged representatives into sponsoring identical legislation in the House. Her bill proposes investing more funds in affordable housing programs, amending zoning laws, and lowering the cap on estate tax, amongst other things.
The proposals above are in addition to the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, which has enjoyed bipartisan support since its inception in 1986. The program has incentivized private companies and individuals to make investments in affordable housing developments, rather than rely on the government to provide public housing. According to the National Housing Law Project, there are currently over two million affordable tax credit units online in the United States today, with tens of thousands more placed in service annually. Although the LIHTC program has proven successful thus far, it only addresses part of the worsening affordable housing crisis.
RubinBrown’s real estate team can help advise on any questions related to affordable housing and the current landscape.