Governing: Newly elected Democratic Socialists bring new ideas on affordable housing

Governing, November 29,2018: Newly elected Democratic Socialists bring new ideas on affordable housing

Democratic Maryland Del.-elect Vaughn Stewart plans to introduce a bill early next year that would create a state trust fund for “social housing.” This “public option for housing,” as he calls it, would be available to people of all income levels, differentiating it from traditional public housing and housing vouchers.

Affordable housing is a crisis across the country. But members of this new DSA cohort seem to be drawing particular attention to the issue. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a former bartender who beat a 10-term incumbent for a seat in the U.S. House, made headlines this month when she indicated she couldn’t afford an apartment in D.C. until she got her first congressional paycheck.

The news that Amazon will build new headquarters in the Washington, D.C., metro area and New York City has many worried about the impact it will have on the cost of living in the surrounding regions. In the past five years, home values rose 73 percent in Seattle, where Amazon built its first U.S. headquarters, while New York City’s increased 42 percent and Arlington County, Va.’s just 15 percent.

Stewart thinks his “public option for housing” would ease the cost of living. He was inspired by a policy paper from the People’s Policy Project, a left-wing think tank, which proposes housing developments owned by local government in which higher-income residents pay higher rents so that people in the middle class can pay less than they do now and the poorest can receive subsidies.

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