There is no county in the nation where a full-time worker earning the federal minimum wage could afford to rent a two bedroom home without spending more than 30% of their income. 2020 Presidential Candidates Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, Tulsi Gabbard, Michael Bloomberg, Amy Klobuchar, and Tom Steyer present their plans to make secure, affordable housing more accessible.
On any given night in 2018 more than 550,000 people experiencing homelessness in America. 2020 presidential candidates propose policies to end veteran homelessness, fully fund homeless shelter programs, and creating and expanding homeless prevention and assistance services.
The Sanders housing plan proposes $32 billion over 5 years to combat homelessness. It not only includes funding for shelters, but also for outreach to help those who are chronically homeless.
Elizabeth Warren would instruct the Department of Justice to not fund or back efforts to criminalize homelessness. Under a Warren administration, police departments arresting and charging residents living outside would be denied federal grant money.
Warren has committed to preventing and reducing what her campaign calls an "epidemic of LGBTQ+ youth, transgender, and veteran homelessness." Warren would restore and strengthen the HUD Equal Access Rule, reversing a Trump Administration proposal allowing shelters to discriminate against transgender residents.
A portion of Elizabeth Warren's proposed 3 million new affordable housing units would be set aside for vulnerable groups like the chronically homeless.
Andrew Yang identifies homelessness as a critical issue facing veterans and has included an outline of policies to address the issue in his “More Than A Handshake” Plan. Yang would address situational homelessness among veterans with supportive services that ease the transition back to civilian life and provide employment and stability services. Additionally, Yang’s “Every Vet Under A Roof Initiative” would establish a census that identifies and funnels underserved, chronically homeless veterans into health and supportive services.
To mitigate future cases of veteran homelessness, Yang proposes programs that would give active service members the opportunity to dedicate portions of their pay to accounts specifically for retirement and post-discharge housing.
Tulsi Gabbard would reinvest defense spending to end homelessness in America. Her campaign states that Gabbard is a "strong advocate" for affordable housing and protections for the homeless citing her work in obtaining federal funds for new housing and homeless assistance in Hawai'i.
Tom Steyer would invest $8 Billion in Homeless Assistance Grants and homeless case management through the McKinney-Vento Act. A Steyer administration would focus on expanding Section 5 of the act to rehabilitate vacant buildings as rapid rehousing projects for homeless and at-risk households.
Steyer would also reform and expand the Continuum of Care program, allowing tribal participation as well as improving coordination between federal, state, and local governments.
Klobuchar advocates a “major investment” in homelessness assistance grants for emergency and long-term housing. She would also increase access to supportive services. In addition, Klobuchar would focus resources on reaching underserved populations, like rural households, domestic violence survivors, and people who have criminal records.
2020 Presidential candidates make proposals to protect a tenant's right to housing, create paths for formerly incarcerated individuals to find and keep housing, and empower tenants in cases of eviction.
Biden's campaign supports ensuring housing opportunities for people with criminal histories. The Biden Plan for Strengthening America's Commitment to Justice even suggests that HUD only approve contracts with entities that will provide a "second chance" to those with criminal histories who need affordable housing and social services.
Bernie Sanders would implement a just-cause requirement for evictions and provide $2 billion in federal matching grants for localities to provide a right to counsel for persons in eviction or foreclosure proceeding.
Elizabeth Warren would work to secure tenants' rights at a national level. Her campaign proposes creating a federal "just cause" eviction standard, give tenants a right to lease renewal, and protect tenant's right to organize.
As president, Warren would institute a right-to-counsel for low-income tenants facing eviction and push to create a new Tenant Protection Bureau within HUD to enforce the tenants' rights her campaign proposes. The Tenant Protection Bureau would be modeled after the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, including a tenant hotline to hold landlords and localities accountable for legitimate tenant complaints.
Additionally, Warren would expand the groups protected under the Fair Housing Act to include barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status and source of income.
As part of his criminal justice reform proposal, Buttigieg would lift federal barriers that prevent people with criminal records from accessing public benefits. He would also provide incentives to local communities to lift similar restrictions.
Tom Steyer would create a renters emergency fund that would provide one-time grants or loans to low-income households facing eviction due to unexpected costs. To further mitigate eviction, Steyer's plan would ensure legal representation for low-income tenants in eviction cases.
Tom Steyer would also propose a ban on landlords and rental agencies discriminating against applicants based on their source of income and history of bankruptcy under the condition that the applicant is able to demonstrate the ability to reliably pay rent and meet “stability requirements for occupancy.”
Klobuchar proposes providing access to legal counsel for people facing evictions and prohibiting discrimination and blacklisting based on prior eviction court cases. She would also expand the groups protected under the Fair Housing Act. These include outlawing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or veteran status.
In addition, Klobuchar proposes reinstating the Office of Fair Lending and Opportunity’s enforcement and oversight powers to go after discriminatory lending institutions. She would also restore the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule. Delayed by the Trump administration, it would require cities to identify patterns of segregation and propose concrete steps to reverse segregation.
America's aging stock of federally supported affordable housing is unable to serve demand. 2020 Presidential Candidates propose new construction and rehabilitation through the Public Housing program, fully funding the Housing Trust Fund and Capital Magnet Fund, and structuring incentives for private developers to build dense and transit-oriented housing.
Sanders calls for expanding the National Housing Trust Fund to construct, repair and rehabilitate 7.4 million affordable units. Additionally, he would provide $50 billion to support community land trusts. Community land trusts create housing that remains affordable forever. They do this by permanently restricting the use of the land to affordable housing.
Elizabeth Warren’s plan would construct or rehabilitate 3.2 million affordable housing units over 10 years. She would provide $445 billion over 10 years to the National Housing Trust Fund to build and rehabilitate housing serving people with the lowest incomes. Her plan also calls for $2 billion for the Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG). In addition, Warren’s plan calls for $25 billion to go to the Capital Magnet Fund, where it would be matched 10-to-1 to produce 835,000 new units affordable to low-income households.
Funding from capital gains tax reform will support $430 billion for programs that support affordable housing. These include the National Housing Trust Fund and the Capital Magnet Fund. Buttigieg proposes investing in programs that support people leaving incarceration. Investments for those with criminal records would be made in affordable housing, subsidized transportation, and supportive services. Buttigieg also proposes investments to mitigate and remove health hazards. These include lead, mold, asbestos and poor air quality.
The Buttigieg campaign estimates that the plan will “unlock access” to affordable housing for 7 million families and build or rehabilitate 2 million affordable housing units.
Andrew Yang would encourage new construction of what his campaign calls “innovative housing options” such as micro-apartments and communal living in high-density urban areas.
Tom Steyer would invest $47 billion in the new construction, renovation, and preservation of affordable housing. The investment would be made through the National Housing Trust Fund and the Capital Magnet Fund which currently operate by making grants and loans for affordable housing projects.
Steyer states that his plan would highlight multifamily projects that feature “wraparound services [and] communal spaces” and would meet his campaign's climate goals.
Low-income families lack methods to build and sustain wealth and are subjected to "welfare cliffs" where the programs intend to lift low-income families from poverty disincentivize increasing income and self-investment. 2020 candidates propose universal basic income, homeownership bonds, and federally funded savings accounts.
Elizabeth Warren's proposals to empower communities rather than Wall Street include reforming government programs that consolidate assets in favor of investors rather than provide protections for homeowners and first-time homebuyers.
Warren's campaign suggests that these reforms, bundled with restrictions on how the federal government can sell mortgages, would "lower rents, take a first step towards closing the racial wealth gap, and make it easier for Americans to access affordable housing."
Pete Buttigieg published "An Economic Agenda for American Families" as a series of proposals aimed at building and retaining the wealth of American households.
Buttigieg states that he would "measure success not just by the size of the stock market or gross domestic product, but by whether working and middle class families are succeeding."
In order to reach that success, Buttigieg proposes lowering costs of living, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, institute a $15 federal minimum wage, guarantee sick and familial leave, as well as require pay transparency to unlock the earning power of women and minorities.
Andrew Yang proposed instituting a universal basic income program to distribute what his campaign calls a “Freedom Dividend.” This $1,000 monthly basic income, to be distributed independent of income or work status, would specifically enable low-income Americans to dedicate money to building and sustaining household wealth.
Unlike traditional welfare programs, Yang claims that his Freedom Dividend would not disincentivize working or earning more because the dividend is not restricted to those earning under an income threshold.
Yang would pay for this universal basic income program through a consolidation of existing welfare programs and implementing a value added tax (VAT) of 10%. The VAT would be a tax on the production of goods and services certain classes of businesses produce. His campaign estimates that the VAT would generate $800 billion in new revenue while consolidation of welfare programs could save between $100 and $200 billion.
Tom Steyer would encourage densification that creates and sustains household wealth, including incentives for accessory units, 2-4 unit construction, cooperatives, land trust ownership models, and “other creative densification solutions.”
Tom Steyer proposes to “fight unjust gentrification” by creating vehicles that enable long-term and generational residents to build equity as their neighborhood gains wealth. The Steyer campaign has not published details on how this policy would be enacted.
Klobuchar proposes portable savings accounts funded through an employer set-aside. The funds saved can be used for non-routine, emergency expenses that may lead to someone being unable to pay their housing costs. One eligible use would be the costs of challenging an eviction notice.
The creation of affordable housing in high opportunity areas is often stymied by local "Not In My Back Yard" zoning laws enacted to protect the assets property owners. 2020 candidates propose incentives for localities to reform their zoning laws in favor of affordable housing construction.
Bernie Sanders would require local government recipients of federal funding to make zoning reforms that support the construction and preservation of affordable housing.
The Sanders campaign would preempt laws that prevent inclusionary zoning for luxury housing developments, end exclusionary and restrictive zoning, and institute tax policies that discourage flipping non-owner-occupied properties and holding vacant homes as speculative investment.
Elizabeth Warren proposes $10 billion for a new competitive grant program for local governments. They can use the funds for roads, schools, and parks, but to be eligible, local governments must revise their zoning regulations that have limited affordable housing development or promoted segregation.
Zoning reform would also be a priority of Warren's proposed HUD "Innovation Lab", that would study strategies to keep rents affordable.
Pete Buttigieg would work with localities to reform local zoning laws to favor low- and moderate-income families.
Andrew Yang’s campaign aims to create more affordable housing through reforming prohibitive zoning laws in cooperation with local governments.
Yang blames NIMBY ( “not in my back yard”) policies and zoning laws supported by some homeowners for making the creation of effective affordable housing impossible.
Amy Klobuchar would prioritize funding to localities that implement zoning laws that favor the construction and preservation of affordable housing.
Homeownership is increasingly only accessible to wealthy households. 2020 Presidential Candidates propose policies that would make mortgages more consumer-friendly, expand protections under the Fair Housing Act, provide downpayment assistance, and help low-income households build assets.
Bernie Sanders would invest $50 billion over 10 years in Community Land Trusts
Community land trusts would offer homes to working families at affordable prices with the agreement that the homeowners would sell back to the trust at a capped price. This allows homes within the trust to remain perpetually affordable while giving working households the opportunity to own assets and build wealth on the path to traditional homeownership.
Sanders would invest $15 billion to enact what his campaign calls a 21st Century Homestead Act which would purchase and rehabilitate abandoned properties to create homeownership and wealth-building opportunities to historically disadvantaged communities.
The Sanders campaign proposes funding HUD and USDA at a combined $8 billion to create assistance programs for first-time homebuyers.
Elizabeth Warren’s plan would target downpayment assistance for first-time homebuyers in low-income or segregated areas. Her plan also proposes $2 billion to help low-income homeowners in high-cost areas whose homes are worth less than what they owe.
Warren would also target "land contracts agreements" which her campaign identifies as practices that bundle high interest, predatory loans with substandard homes. These rent-to-own style contracts are frequently marketed to vulnerable communities as a path to homeownership.
Buttigieg proposes the 21st Century Community Homestead Act. It would create a Homeownership Fund in selected cities to purchase abandoned properties and provide them to eligible households. The households would own the property outright with a 10-year lien to encourage the property’s rehabilitation. Cities can also use the Homeownership Fund to invest in projects that revitalize the communities around the reclaimed properties. It can pay for infrastructure, public facilities or jobs programs.
Steyer would extend access to affordable mortgages through expanded enforcement of existing consumer protection laws, enacting policy and financial vehicles that would keep homes in the hands of families instead of benefitting investors, as well as partaking in “a revitalization and racially-corrective reform of the Federal Mortgage Program.”
Klobuchar proposes downpayment assistance and credit development to promote homeownership among more low-income households. Credit development includes things such as using information besides just a credit score to establish a borrower’s creditworthiness, such as paying phone bills, rent and utilities on time. Klobuchar also proposes a Single-Family Tax Credit. This credit would encourage purchase and investment in single-family homes located in distressed neighborhoods.
The housing choice voucher program is the federal government's largest rental assistance program. However, the program is underfunded and oversubscribed to the point that 7 in 10 eligible households are unable to receive assistance. 2020 Presidential Candidates propose expanding the program to cover all eligible households.
Bernie Sanders proposes making Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers an entitlement, meaning that anyone who is eligible would receive assistance without a waiting list.
Sanders would also give funding to localities to provide counsel to Housing Choice Voucher tenants at risk for losing their voucher assistance.
Elizabeth Warren would prohibit housing discrimination on the basis of a households source of income. Under that rule, Housing Choice Voucher holders would not be denied housing they would otherwise qualify for.
Pete Buttigieg would invest $170 billion in the Housing Choice Voucher program to ensure that families with children have access to the program, mobility counseling, and wrap-around services.
Tom Steyer would expand the Housing Choice Voucher program to cover the remaining 3 quarters of eligible households unable to receive assistance under existing funding levels. Additionally, Steyer would establish “navigators” to help eligible households access assistance.
Klobuchar proposes expanding the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program so that all eligible households with children will receive assistance.
High rates of poverty, poor quality of housing, and access to affordable mortgages drive the need for investment in affordable, rural housing in America. 2020 presidential candidates make propose solutions that would fully fund USDA Rural Housing Service programs, provide direct loans to rural homebuyers, and expand rural rental assistance programs.
Bernie Sanders would increase investment in rural housing by expanding the Department of Agricultures Section 515 Rural Housing program by $500 million. Funds would go towards new construction and extending the affordability period of existing subsidized rural housing.
Elizabeth Warren’s plan would provide $523 million more for USDA rural rental housing programs to build and preserve 380,000 affordable apartments for low-income rural residents. Her plan would also promote homeownership for low-income buyers by doubling the number of USDA Section 502 Direct Loans. This would help an additional 17,000 low-income rural families become homeowners.
Tom Steyer would support rural housing through expanded programs within the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs Housing Improvement Program.
Steyer highlights programs that would create new rural housing, acquire and renovate older units, provide senior housing, as well as rural workforce housing.
Klobuchar’s housing plan would “strengthen rural rental assistance programs” and “increase investments in rural housing supply.” This includes housing programs serving Native Americans. She also proposes increasing access to housing program information in rural areas. Klobuchar would also encourage increased private investment in affordable rural housing.
The federal government's largest affordable housing construction program, the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program aims to create low-income housing opportunities in decent, stable, and low-poverty neighborhoods. 2020 presidential candidates propose expanding funding allocations and enacting policy changes that would encourage more development under the program.
Elizabeth Warren proposes an update to major federal housing programs including the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program. Notably, Warren would allow Public Housing Agencies to access funding through the program, allowing units built with it to remain publicly owned.
A Steyer administration would update the Low Income Housing Tax Program by increasing housing credit allocations by 50% over the next five years. Additionally, Steyer promotes a 4% housing credit floor for renovating affordable projects and enacting additional reforms that would create more than 500,000 additional affordable units.
While his campaign provides few details on what additional reforms he would make, Steyer’s housing plan would prioritize transit-oriented development, energy efficiency, and densification.
Amy Klobuchar proposes expanding the current state allocations for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program to support the construction of more rental units affordable to low-income renters.
Klobuchar would provide incentives for new construction under the program in high-opportunity areas.
The number of public housing homes has dropped by more than 250,000 since the 1990s. While close to 60,000 of those units have been converted to more reliably funded housing assistance programs, the remainder has been permanently lost due to long term funding shortfalls. 2020 presidential candidates propose policies to preserve and rehabilitate existing public housing as well as guide the program toward sustainability.
Sanders proposes $70 billion for public housing repairs. Separately, he co-sponsored the Green New Deal for Public Housing with Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. The legislation would invest $180 billion in deep energy retrofits for public housing over 10 years, leaving public housing with net-zero carbon emissions.
Elizabeth Warren would invest in safe, healthy, and green public housing according to her campaign.
A focus of Warren's investment would be rehabilitating public housing units to remove hazards and meet accessibility needs.
Warren would also repeal the Faircloth Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds for the construction or operation of new public housing. The Amendment effectively caps public housing stock at 1999 levels.
Rent Control is the process of capping the rate at which rents can increase with the goal of preventing low- and moderate-income households from being priced out of housing in quality neighborhoods. 2020 presidential candidates propose policies that would create a national standard for rent control based on inflation or provide incentives for localities that implement rent controls.
Sanders has proposed National Rent Control. It would cap annual rent increases at 1.5 times the rate of inflation, or 3%, whichever is greater. It would not apply to local jurisdictions with stricter rent control laws already in place.
Elizabeth Warren's housing plan includes a competitive grant program that offers money to localities that adopt rent control and other tenant protections.
The Warren campaign states that she strongly opposes state laws that preempt local efforts to institute tenant protections like rent control.
While implementation and eligibility differ between candidate proposals, a Renter Tax Credit would give renter households a credit worth the difference between 30% of their income and the rental cost of the unit.
Tom Steyer proposes a quarterly renter tax credit for low- and middle-income renters for rental or mortgage down-payment assistance. Assistance provided under Steyer’s tax credit would be based on household income and the Small Area Fair Market Rent of the neighborhood.
By 2030, 1 in every 5 Americans will be aged 65 or older. The nation's stock of affordable senior housing, as well as housing bundled with senior supportive services, will continue to be oversubscribed without additional investment. 2020 presidential candidates propose expansions for existing senior housing programs in addition to creating safe financial vehicles for elderly homeowners.
A portion of Elizabeth Warren's proposed 3 million new affordable housing units would be set aside for vulnerable groups like the seniors who want to age in place.
Klobuchar’s plan calls for expanding access to affordable senior housing. She supports retrofitting existing housing to meet the needs of an aging population. She would also promote access to safe financial products that facilitate aging in place.
This resource focuses on 2020 Presidential Candidates polling greater than 1% in the latest national Emerson poll. Candidates are presented in order of polling percentage then by last name. Candidates polling below 1% and candidates without published housing plans may not be included. Analysis on the Trump Administration and 116th Congress' impact on affordable housing are available in Affordable Housing Online's FY20 HUD Budget estimator.Policy Coverage of Candidates Polling below 1% or with suspended campaigns: