The United States hit by a severe housing shortage according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. It is estimated that America has only 37 percent of the required affordable homes for extremely poor families. In some key cities, the statistics are even worse. Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Houston offer affordable housing up to 20 percent of their poorest households.
Housing issue in Primary debates
As the 2020 presidential race kick-started, candidates in democrats in their party primaries have unveiled vital housing solutions the first time in decades. The issue of affordable housing is highlighted to an unprecedented level in the debates of the contenders. One reason for taking it seriously could be a tremendous increase in the living cost nationwide, and which could benefit them as one of the major campaign issues. In the first early months of the election season, there has already been more attention on affordable housing policy than in the history of presidential campaigns.
According to the President of the National low-income Housing Coalition, the change in the approach of the Democrats towards this issue could be about the time as for a long-time affordable housing issue has already been dealt unfairly by Congress for a very long time.
Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Julián Castro, the Democrat contenders have revealed detailed proposals designed at radically increasing the provision of affordable housing along with enhanced incentives and protection for renters and homeowners.
The candidates like Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand have also, either signed onto these plans or suggested more limited solutions. Ocasio-Cortez asked. “What it means is that our access and our ability and our guarantee to having a home come before someone else’s privilege to earn a profit” but all candidates don’t have the same approach on the crises as Ocasio-Cortez.
With numerous Democratic candidates seriously addressing the issue of affordability, the housing may be only a central political issue for the left. Given the fact that the expensive cities are run almost exclusively by Democratic Party officials, it may seem like housing is only a political problem for them through which America’s poor masses could be attracted. In reality, the affordability crisis is a national issue that calls for a potential appeal of solutions. Some judge that although the affordable housing crisis has received extraordinary attention in the 2020 presidential campaign, no proposal has surfaced indicating measures to hold cities accountable for failing to address this crisis.
Support for Housing Trust Fund
The plans presented by these democrats might be different broadly in strategy and range, a common objective in them is a massive increase in allocation of funds for the Housing Trust Fund, the most embattled low-income federal housing program which was established in 2008. The said trust fund provides states with critically needed capital to construct and sustain housing, typically for extremely low-income households and the fund has always been underfunded and at present, it is estimated that there is a shortage of over 7 million such homes in the country.
Warren, Booker, Castro, and Gillibrand all recommended financing the trust fund by an additional $40 to $45 billion per year to fill the gap in the need for housing. They all maintained that this increase in the support of the fund will have a considerable effect on supporting Americans living in low-income communities as this increase will suffice the construction of 3 million apartments.
The plan they outline includes a range of other strategies to renters facing eviction, assistance to homebuyers and reforming zoning rules that are presently preventing new construction projects in the cities.
State of the Crisis
This treatment of the issue at these debates and rallies by the Presidential candidates speaks of the magnitude of the housing crisis in the United States. There has always been a shortage of low-income housing in the country since the 1970s but it has become a challenge for the middle-class Americans as well.
The home prices are rising at twice the rate of wages, the 66percent of renters express their inability to purchase. Which constitute around 38 million renters—equal to the entire population of California—spend over 30 percent of their monthly income on rent. The situation is worsening, and its effects are starting to be felt by the middle class, said one candidate.
Another reason for democrats to address this long-forgotten issue is that the shortage of affordable housing is more serious in a number of their key constituencies.
The big challenge lies in addressing the zoning reform problem, one possible hazard is that the plans may sidestep some exclusionary zoning in richer neighborhoods. Because these regions are not dependent on federal grants s, they may not be enticed by new or existing funding. Consequently wealthier areas could be left unchanged, including areas most in need of zoning reform, and cities with large poor populations that fail to reform could have their federal block grants cut.
Besides zoning and other operational issues in housing the problem the democrat plans handle is how to deal with racial discrimination in federal housing policy, a legacy deeply rooted in urban and suburban America.
The assistance to home buyers in historically redlined districts is planned to be given from a new pot of money by HUD in candidate Warren’s plan. Experts believe that although it does not openly address the Afro-Americans still they are the main target group. The provision is for areas marked ‘D’ in the federal maps, which were systematically denied facility of mortgage loans based on 1930s classification. Additional requirements include the length of 4 years living in the redlined area and the having income 120 percent below the average for that particular locality.
Experts warned that only the language of the policy, alone might not be able to compensate the real victims of racial based historic housing prejudice, rather it might increase the damage in the form of displacement.
Some of these proposals may also have bipartisan support, for example, the Trump administration released its housing plan in late June 2019 that focused on zoning reform reflecting bright chances of initiatives of high-end development and gentrification of low-income housing option nationwide. It also mirrored that the White House also accepts the fact that the housing crises can no longer be overlooked.
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