Democratic Presidential Candidates Introduce Affordable Housing Proposals
Several 2020 presidential candidates have introduced housing proposals. Three of the top Democratic contenders in 2020, Senators Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Elizabeth Warren, have already introduced major proposals in the Senate that would reshape affordable housing in America.
The proposals include renter tax credits, ramped-up federal funding for housing construction, and controversial moves to reform local zoning. Federal tax law has long favored homeownership by providing deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes. Harris and Booker’s plans would give renters some relief by guaranteeing tax credits for those spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent (including utilities).
Under Booker’s bill, the Housing, Opportunity, Mobility, and Equity (HOME) Act, those cost-burdened renters would get a tax credit for the difference between 30 percent of their income and the rent they’re paying, up to the area fair market rent. Harris’ bill, the Rent Relief Act, calls for a similar credit but is more focused on helping the poorest renters. As a taxpayer’s income increased, the amount of credit they received would decrease, and no one making more than $125,000 would benefit.
Warren wants to address high housing costs by increasing the supply of housing. Her bill, the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, would invest $50 billion a year in various efforts to build more homes and increase the supply of housing. Most of that money would be sent to state housing agencies to fund the construction of more affordable apartments. The plan would help build 3.2 million new affordable housing units over 10 years, which would reduce rents nationwide by 10 percent compared with what they would be otherwise, according to an analysis of the bill by Moody’s.
Both Warren and Booker’s proposals also address the issue of local zoning. They would try to get cities to rewrite rules that make it difficult to build more housing, such as height limits, restrictions on multifamily housing, or minimum parking requirements. Warren’s bill would create a new batch of funding that cities can apply for and would win based on the most effective zoning reforms. Under Booker’s bill, cities could be denied federal Community Development Block Grants if they don’t submit strategies to reform their zoning rules in ways that would help build more affordable housing.