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, and Bernie Sanders present their plans to make secure, affordable housing more accessible.
On any given night in 2018 more than 550,000 people are 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 Biden plan calls for developing a national strategy to make housing a right for all. It calls for passing the Ending Homelessness Act sponsored by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA). This would provide $13 billion over five years, including $5 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants. The funding would produce 400,000 additional housing units for homeless individuals. The plan also calls for reforming affordable housing programs to promote “housing first” approaches to homelessness. This means that local providers place homeless individuals as quickly as possible in permanent housing, then provide services to help people stabilize their situations. Biden’s plan also calls for more work reducing homelessness among veterans.
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.
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.
Biden would roll back Trump administration moves to reduce fair housing and fair lending protections for homeowners. He also proposes a homeowner’s bill of rights that would provide new fair lending and fair housing protections for homeowners. The plan also calls for making the First Downpayment Tax Credit permanent and advanceable. The $15,000 credit could be used when closing on a home mortgage. Biden would also expand the Good Neighbor Next Door program for first responders, teachers and other public servants. For rural low-income residents, the Biden plan would increase funding for the Section 502 Direct Loan program. This program provides low-interest loans with no downpayment for low-income homebuyers. Interest rates are based on income level.
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.
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.
Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV) and Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) would be fully funded under Biden’s housing plan so that every eligible household receives assistance. This would provide housing assistance to 17 million households. Biden would also enact a law banning discrimination based on source of income. This would make it easier for low-income renters to use their vouchers in the private rental market.
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.
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.
The Biden housing plan proposes a $100 billion Affordable Housing Fund. This funding includes $65 billion for state housing authorities and Indian Housing Block Grant agencies to build or rehabilitate low-cost, efficient, accessible and resilient housing in areas where affordable housing is in short supply. It also includes $10 billion to make homes more energy efficient. In addition, the plan proposes $5 billion to expand the HOME program, $10 billion over 10 years for Community Development Block Grants, and would increase the National Housing Trust Fund by $20 billion.
In addition, the Biden plan would expand funding for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI). CDFIs invest in affordable housing and community development projects that benefit low-income residents. In rural communities, Biden proposes increased funding for the Section 515 Multifamily Loan program, which builds and rehabilitates low-cost apartments in rural areas.
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.
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.
Increased funding would be provided for USDA’s Multifamily loan programs under Biden’s plan, including the Section 515 Rural Rental Housing and Section 514/516 Farm Labor Housing programs. It would also increase funding for Section 502 Direct loans that help low-income rural residents become homeowners. A Biden administration would follow the “10-20-30” rule promoted by Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC). It would direct 10% of all Rural Development funding to counties where 20% or more of the population has lived below the poverty line for 30 years.
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.
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 plan proposes a bill of rights for renters, and protection for renters from discrimination on the basis of source of income. Biden would also provide legal assistance to those facing eviction. In addition, Biden would strengthen the Community Reinvestment Act, which requires lenders to serve all groups within their communities, including low-income renters.
Biden's campaign also 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.
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.
The Biden plan would tie-in federal investments in affordable housing with local and state efforts to change regulations that limit affordable housing or promote sprawl.
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.
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.
Biden’s plan would also expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program with a $10 billion investment. It would also provide $5 billion per year for the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) program.
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.
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.
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.
The Biden plan proposes $5 billion for a Renters Tax Credit for families that make too much to qualify for Section 8 rental assistance, but who still struggle to pay rent. The credit will allow these families to pay no more than 30% of their monthly income for rent.
The nation's stock of affordable senior and disabled housing, as well as housing bundled with supportive services, will continue to be oversubscribed without additional investment. 2020 presidential candidates propose expansions for existing senior and disabled housing programs, in addition to creating safe financial vehicles for elderly homeowners.
Funding would be increased for the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly and Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities programs under Biden’s plan.
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.
In a town hall event on February 6th, Joe Biden stated "The way I do it, first of all, no one should be working in the United States of America 40 hours a week and living in poverty. And that's why we have to raise, nationally, the standard of $15 an hour for every worker in America, number one."
This resource focuses on 2020 Presidential Candidates polling greater than 1% in the latest national Ipsos 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: