CityLab: What A Trillion-Dollar Housing Pledge Looks Like

CityLab, Nov 21, 2019: What A Trillion-Dollar Housing Pledge Looks Like

Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar introduced a bold act on Thursday that would commit $1 trillion to the cause of affordable housing. That’s trillion with a T, which makes Omar’s bill a new mile-marker in the progressive left’s efforts to stake out a national housing agenda.

Housing has emerged as a pressing issue on the campaign trail, and it surfaced as a concern during the Democratic Party forum on Wednesday night. Several candidates discussed their plans on topics such as zoning, rent relief and racial segregation. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke to the history of redlining, while New Jersey Senator Cory Booker mentioned his plan for a tax credit for renters. Yet a separate idea is brewing on the left. Housing is a litmus for liberals, as as a younger generation of progressives embraces a solution abandoned by elected officials after decades of systemic failures: public housing.

Omar’s Homes for All Act plants a flag for an unapologetic public housing agenda. Her bill would authorize funding for 12 million new homes over 10 years, most of which would take the form of public housing. It would mark the first commitment to public housing since the Clinton era, when Congress shredded this part of the social safety net. It speaks to the growing dissatisfaction among tenants and advocates with neighborhood change. In many cities, proven approaches to rental affordability—namely building more homes everywhere—have fallen short.

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