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Presidential candidate Tom Steyer rolls out housing policy

Democratic candidates up their focus on housing

When the election first started, housing wasn’t a key issue for Democratic candidates, even in the primary debates.

After the October debate, Julián Castro criticized the moderators for closing with a question about comedian Ellen DeGeneres’ controversial friendship with former President George W. Bush without asking any questions about housing and other critical issues. The former secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development didn’t qualify for the November debate.

But now talk about housing has turned it up a notch as more candidates release their plans for housing. Tom Steyer is the latest.

“Communities riddled with food deserts, smog, underfunded schools, and lack of jobs cannot thrive,” Steyer said in his proposal. “There is no reprieve without secure shelter. Every American deserves access to safe, affordable, and sustainable housing as a basic human need.”

Steyer lays out four points that his policy focuses on:

  • Improve and increase the supply of affordable housing
  • Fight homelessness
  • Build family wealth
  • Develop climate-smart communities

Steyer suggests investing $45 billion per year in affordable construction and renovation through the Housing Trust Fund and Capital Magnet Fund. He would also increase the Low Income Housing Tax Credit allocations by 50% over the next five years, and establish a 4% housing credit floor for renovation projects which will create more than 300,000 additional affordable rental units.

Steyer’s plan dedicates $10 billion per year to solve the housing crisis through the creation of the Ideas to Develop and Ensure Affordability Housing Competition, a grant competition designed to support innovative new solutions in streamlining, financing, technology, and construction to end America’s housing crisis.

The policy also includes a plan to fight homelessness by investing $8 billion in homeless assistance grants and case management. With more than 37,000 veterans currently experiencing homelessness, Steyer expressed his vision to end veteran homelessness entirely.

“When you look at inequality in the United States of America, you have to start with housing,” Steyer said at the second Democratic debate. “Where you put your head at night determines so many things about your life. It determines where your kids go to school, the quality of air you breathe, where you shop, how long it takes to get to work.”

Earlier this month, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. and Senator Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., also a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, announced the launch of their “Green New Deal for Public Housing.” This bill promises $180 billion over 10 years to cut carbon dioxide emissions from public housing across the country.

And Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, and Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, introduced a new bill in November that will dedicate $100 billion to fighting the affordable housing crisis in the U.S.

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