Dems Release Exhaustive Housing Policy Agenda

By Jim Perskie

Opposing wings of the Democratic Party released sweeping policy recommendations, including proposals to reverse policies and practices that “have made homeownership all but impossible for millions of working families.”

The proposals – released by the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force – were released Wednesday as part of a 110-page document meant to bring together supporters of former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders ahead of the November election.

“Democrats believe the government should take aggressive steps to increase the supply of housing, especially affordable housing, and address long-standing economic and racial inequities in our housing markets,” the proposal states. “We will equalize access to affordable credit and improve access to down payment assistance to help families of color, low-income families, and rural buyers purchase homes.”

Specifically, the task force calls for:

  • “Supercharging” investment in the Housing Trust Fund to greatly expand the number of affordable housing units on the market, reduce home prices, and create jobs.
  • Providing Section 8 housing support for every eligible family.
  • Making energy efficiency upgrades for millions of low-income households in metropolitan and rural areas, affordable housing units, and public housing units to save families money on their energy bills, create jobs, and provide safe and healthy homes.
  • Enacting a new Homeowner and Renter Bill of Rights to protect families from abusive lenders and landlords to prevent mortgage brokers from leading borrowers into loans that cost more than their credit history demands, prevent mortgage servicers from advancing a foreclosure when a homeowner is in the process of receiving a loan modification, and give homeowners opportunities to seek financial redress from mortgage lenders and servicers that violate these protections.
  • Providing legal support to fight wrongful evictions.
  • Enforcing the Fair Housing Act and the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act and hold lenders accountable for discriminatory practices.
  • Using the federal government to enforce settlements against discriminatory lenders and require communities to proactively review housing patterns and remedy local policies that have a discriminatory effect.
  • Giving local elected officials tools and resources to combat gentrification, penalize predatory lending practices, and maintain homeownership, including exploring targeted rental relief when exorbitant rent increases force long-term residents from their communities and tackling persistent racial bias in appraisals that contributes to the racial wealth gap.
  • Enacting a housing first approach to ending homelessness to provide a stable and safe place to live is essential to helping a person tackle any other challenges they may face, from mental illness to substance use disorders to PTSD. LGBTQ+ youth, especially Black and brown LGBTQ+ youth, too often find themselves on the streets.
  • Acting swiftly to end homelessness among veterans and will enact strong protections for LGBTQ+ people.
  • Ensuring that 100 percent of returning citizens have access to transitional housing upon reentry from jail or prison.

“Homeownership is at the center of the American Dream—and yet it has never been in reach for all,” according to the document. “Decades of redlining, rising income inequality, and predatory lending practices targeting low-income families and people of color have made homeownership all but impossible for millions of working families. We have a nationwide shortage of affordable housing units, and tens of millions of Americans live in homes that pose risks to their health and safety.”