Both Democratic presidential candidates vow to expand affordable housing opportunities if elected in November.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont recently released his plans, saying he will fight to increase funding for the National Housing Trust Fund to “at least $5 billion a year in order to construct, preserve, and rehabilitate at least 3.5 million affordable housing rental units over the next decade.”
Sanders also calls for reinvigorating federal housing production programs, saying the country “must return to pre-2010 funding levels by ending sequestration and invest more, not less, in affordable housing.”
However, he does not give any further specifics for expanding affordable housing production.
In another move, Sanders plans to demand more from developers. “Housing that is built with government subsidies should remain affordable much longer than the 10, 15, or 20 years typically required by federal housing programs,” Sanders says. “In my state of Vermont, we require affordable housing to remain affordable permanently. In my view, once we subsidize rental housing, we shouldn’t have to pay again and again simply to ‘preserve’ it.”
He also states that funding must be provided to support all existing project-based rental assistance contracts.
Former senator and secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who released her plans earlier, zeroes in on two key programs to help increase affordable housing and revitalize communities.
Clinton vows to defend and increase the supply of low-income housing tax credits. “The additional credits will be allocated through a competitive process to those cities and states that are in the best position to use them effectively,” she says.
Clinton also wants to double the amount of New Markets Tax Credits (NMTCs) available and make the program permanent. “These enhancements to the NMTC will encourage greater investment into communities that need it most,” she says.
Clinton adds that she will build on the Choice Neighborhoods and Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative programs.
In another move, Clinton says she will work to expand the choices that recipients of housing vouchers have in deciding where to live. “Today those with vouchers must often choose among the very pockets of poverty the vouchers are intended to allow them to leave,” she says, adding that she believes the range of options should be expanded to include neighbors with more jobs and better schools.
Her plans also state that she will “encourage communities to implement land-use strategies that make it easier to build affordable rental housing near good jobs.”
On the homeownership side, Clinton supports funding for initiatives in underserved communities to match up to $10,000 in savings for responsible homeowners who earn less than area median income to put towards a downpayment on a first home.
Sanders says the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Department of Agriculture Rural Development assistance programs for first-time homeowners should be expanded, particularly through downpayment assistance, loan guarantees, and direct loans.
On the Republican side, candidate Sen. Ted Cruz wants to eliminate HUD.