Every Democrat’s 2020 Plan to Solve the Housing Crisis

Over the weekend, Bernie Sanders teased a $ 2.5 trillion housing plan that, among other things, promises to set a national standard for rent control and make significant investments in affordable housing. Like Sanders, several other Democratic candidates have come up with proposals to bridge America’s housing inequality. Former Minister of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, unsurprisingly, has one of the most detailed plans, with policies he says are aimed at addressing the homelessness crisis. Meanwhile, the former Texas representative. Beto O’Rourke has yet to release any housing plan (or respond to criticism of his controversial report on the matter).

Below you will find key points in the housing plans of every Democrat who so far has been eligible to participate in the October debate. (We’ll also note if the applicant hasn’t submitted a housing plan yet.) You’ll see several recurring themes: incentives to remove strict zoning rules that prohibit affordable housing, and plans to address racial disparities in housing opportunities.

Joe Biden

Corey Booker

  • Create a tenant loan; this will provide a refundable tax credit for those struggling to pay rent. “Anyone who pays more than 30 percent of their pre-tax income is eligible for a loan.”
  • Create “Baby Bond”, federally funded savings accounts for each child, starting at $ 1,000 and going up to $ 2,000 annually (depending on that family’s income). “By age 18, low-income account holders will have access to nearly $ 50,000 in seed money to do things that create wealth and change trajectories, including making a down payment on a home.”
  • Create more affordable housing by removing restrictive zoning rules and committing $ 40 billion to the Housing Trust to create new apartments for low-income tenants who earn less than the federal poverty line or 30 percent of the local median income.
  • Fund the “Right” Program USDA 515 , which helps provide affordable housing for low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities (targeted at rural residents).
  • Combat “discrimination and predatory practices” in the housing market by establishing the Right to Evict to Counsel Fund, a fund for low-income families facing eviction to provide legal advice in court.
  • Fund $ 6 billion a year for homelessness grant programs, including McKinney-Vento Homelessness Programs . (These programs provide people with resources such as shelters, rental subsidies, and temporary housing.)

Pete Buttigieg

  • Adopt the Local Estate Act as part of his larger plan to tackle racial inequality in America. Under this law, cities will apply for funding, create a “land bank” to develop abandoned or alienated property, and transfer ownership of that land to eligible participants.
  • End Homelessness for Families with Children.
  • “Expand federal measures to protect tenants from eviction and unfair harassment.”

Juli en Castro

  • Reform the Housing Choice Voucher program , which provides affordable housing for low-income families, expanding it to include all families below 50 percent of the median income in the area (and take student loan payments into account when determining eligibility).
  • Increase the construction of affordable housing with additional funds of at least $ 45 billion per year.
  • Ending chronic homelessness by 2028 (and homelessness of children, families and youth by the end of his first term) through investments such as an additional $ 5 billion in funding for McKinney-Vento grants for the homeless and expanding Pell grants to cover non-education expenses for students.
  • Increase home ownership by creating programs such as the National Housing Stabilization Fund for those fighting unsafe housing, “including managing small expenses that put them at risk of foreclosure.”
  • Support for housing counseling and financial literacy programs.
  • “Make Wall Street Accountable” through Housing Finance Reforms; “Strengthen” the independence of the Ministry of Justice and the ability to hold banks accountable (including civil rights violations related to housing inequality).

Kamala Harris

  • Create a $ 100 billion federal program to promote black home ownership, including advance payments and closure assistance totaling up to $ 25,000.
  • Amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act so that credit ratings include rent, telephone, and utility bills for individuals with limited credit history.

Amy Klobuchar

  • Provide access to a lawyer for those facing eviction.
  • “Increasing affordable rental housing in rural communities” through “significant” investments.
  • Give tenants access to emergency funds when they cannot pay.

Beto O’Rourke

There was no plan, and when asked about affordable housing during a recent campaign stop inNew Hampshire , O’Rourke was mostly vague; it supports the creation of “millions” of housing units. (He also faced criticism in 2006 for renovations in El Paso that would impact low-income neighborhoods and homeowners.)

Bernie Sanders

  • Invest over $ 32 billion over the next five years to address homelessness; $ 70 billion in public housing; and $ 50 billion in state and local subsidies to land trusts, according to CNN . (Sanders said the entire program would cost $ 2.5 trillion over ten years.)
  • Create a national rental control standard that would limit annual rent to “no more than one and a half times the inflation rate or three percent, whichever is higher.”
  • Create two million mixed income housing units.

Tom Steyer

No plan provided.

Elizabeth Warren

  • A 10% reduction in rental costs nationwide thanks to the US Housing and Economic Mobility Act, which includes an investment of $ 500 billion over ten years to create affordable housing. “By building millions of new apartments, my plan will bring down the rent for everyone.”
  • Invest $ 500 million in rural housing programs and $ 2.5 billion in a housing block subsidy in India and a housing block subsidy for Native Hawaiians to “build or renovate 200,000 homes on tribal land.”
  • Provide $ 10 billion in grants to state and local governments to eliminate stringent zoning regulations that drive up construction costs (and therefore rental costs, according to Warren).
  • Create a down payment assistance program aimed at first-time homebuyers who lived in re-fronted areas or communities that have historically been disenfranchised (shaped by housing discrimination and race denials of mortgages in the 1930s). “If they qualify, they are eligible for a substantial grant that they can contribute as a down payment on a home anywhere in the country.”
  • Take “any legal action” to prevent real estate and private equity from trying to block rent control ballots. “More than 30 states have passed laws that explicitly prohibit cities from imposing rent controls … These state laws effectively allow Wall Street to decide what is best for cities and towns, instead of having residents choose for themselves.”

Andrew Yang

  • Will “work with local residents to relax zoning regulations to develop affordable housing.”
  • “Encourage the construction of new innovative housing options such as micro-apartments and communal housing for people in densely populated urban areas.”


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