The presidential candidates have turned blue talking about how to end the Iraq War, revive a sagging economy, and provide health care, but do they have anything to say about affordable housing?
The issue is coming up more often than in past elections due to the subprime mortgage crisis and slumping housing market. Shining a light on what is being said by the candidates is the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC). It has launched a new Web site, www.housing2008.org, that tracks the latest housing news from the campaign trail.
It’s a nonpartisan forum for discussing housing issues this election year, said Sheila Crowley, NLIHC president.
The site features a campaign news page as well as links to the candidates’ housing statements and positions. “We would like it to be interactive,” Crowley said, noting that people are encouraged to submit any housing- related comments that they hear from the candidates.
As the Nov. 4, 2008, election approaches and the field of contenders winnows, the NLIHC plans to gather even more data on the candidates’ positions on affordable housing.
Many of the candidates’ Web sites fail to say anything specific about housing, but some early highlights from the leading candidates include:
Hillary Clinton: Clinton’s economic action plan calls for a $30 billion Emergency Housing Crisis Fund to help states and cities combat foreclosures. States and cities could also use the funds to support efforts like anti-blight programs and help housing authorities buy vacant properties and rent them to working families. Clinton also wants to strengthen the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), including raising existing FHA mortgage limits in high-cost areas like New York and California. She’s also discussed creating incentives for lenders to identify troubled mortgages and proposed a 90-day moratorium on subprime foreclosures and an automatic rate freeze on subprime mortgages of at least five years.
Barack Obama: Obama’s plan to combat poverty includes increasing the supply of affordable housing by creating an Affordable Housing Trust Fund to develop affordable housing in mixed-income neighborhoods and fully funding the Community Development Block Grant program. He also pledges to create 20 “promise neighborhoods” in areas that have high levels of poverty. These neighborhoods will be provided a full range of services. Obama’s plan to stimulate the economy calls for providing $10 billion to help families avoid foreclosure and working with the FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac “to allow families facing foreclosure to responsibly refinance their mortgages or sell their homes.” He also wants to provide $10 billion in relief for state and local governments facing revenue shortfalls because of the housing crisis.
Mike Huckabee: Huckabee unveiled five principles of his economic stimulus package. In this proposal, he says the federal government needs to begin another round of negotiations with subprime lenders. He said he will strive to find ways to preserve homeownership. His wife, Janet, is on the board of Habitat for Humanity International.
John McCain: McCain’s campaign platform calls for tax cuts for middle-class families. He wants to repeal the alternative minimum tax. He has advocated for veterans and attended the opening of a transitional housing development for veterans last year. There were no housing policies posted on his Web site.
Mitt Romney: Romney has outlined a tax-saving plan that he says will help families save for new homes. He has spoken about loosening FHA program requirements so more loans can be guaranteed. During a debate, he said to keep a recession from occurring, the nation will have to fix the housing crisis.
AHF Readers Prefer Obama
Barack Obama received the most votes when AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE asked readers which presidential candidate would have the most positive impact on the affordable housing industry. Obama beat Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side, while Mike Huckabee emerged as the Republican with the most votes. Ninety-six votes had been cast at press time in early February. Overall, the Democrats received more than three times as many votes than the Republican candidates in the poll, with Obama capturing about 32 percent of all votes and Clinton, 24 percent. Huckabee received 9 percent of the vote; Mitt Romney, 6 percent; and John McCain, 2 percent.