Affordable housing came front and center during Wednesday night’s primary debate, co-hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post.
NBC White House correspondent Kristen Welker posed the question to billionaire and philanthropist Tom Steyer: “Millions of working Americans are finding that housing has become unaffordable … why are you the best person to fix this problem?”
Steyer, as well as Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, responded to the question, although most of the candidates have been vocal throughout their campaigns about the need for affordable housing and their plans to address the nation’s affordability issues.
“We have a crowded field of Democratic presidential candidates for the nomination, and almost every one of them has a housing plan, and they are adding to it daily,” Shannon Ross, vice president of government relations at the Housing Partnership Network, told AHF Live attendees at the Capitol Hill Update session earlier this week in Chicago.
She said most of the candidates’ housing plans—which span the spectrum from homelessness to affordable rental housing and homeownership—have themes around increasing existing resources, renter credits or increased rental assistance, anti-eviction, and tenant advocacy.
Ross added that the Democratic candidates have stepped up in big ways, and having an affordable housing question in a primary debate is a welcome voice to start talking about how to improve the nation’s housing.
“It shows what a great job that the industry has done in raising the profile of affordable, but unfortunately it speaks to what a crisis it is across the country,” Ross says. “I think that recognition that this is something average American voters care about helps the industry.”