Tag Archives: affordable housing

Democratic Race for 2020: Warren Offers Plan for Justice for Border Communities

Senator Elizabeth Warren, at a rally in Brooklyn with Julian Castro, released her plan for Justice for Border Communities © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats running for president has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Elizabeth Warren released her plan for Justice for Border Communities – a stark contrast to what Trump has done to punish asylum seekers, separating children from their parents, and most recently, using the coronavirus pandemic to raise the prospect of shutting the border to Mexico entirely.

“Our border region is made up of multinational, multicultural, economically vibrant communities that reflect the best of what our country can be. From affordable housing to investing in small businesses to stopping Trump’s monument to hate, we can make big, structural change to promote accountability, opportunity, and prosperity at the border,” Senator Warren stated.

This is from the Warren campaign:

Charlestown, MA – Senator Elizabeth Warren, running for president, released her plan to ensure accountability in our border communities by rolling back the Trump administration’s incessant militarization, immediately stopping the construction of Trump’s wall on the border between Mexico and the United States, creating a fair and welcoming immigration system, and respecting the rights of people and our fragile border ecosystem.
 
She will also work to build a 21st century border economy by boosting small businesses, growing access to financial services, closing the digital divide, uplifting labor and environmental protections through trade, and developing the green workforce of the future.
 
Some new proposals in her plan include:

In her first 100 days, she will convene a borderlands summit, bringing together federal, state, and local representatives, Tribal Nations, members of the business community, community organizations and stakeholders to undo the harm of the Trump administration and create more prosperity in the region.

She will create a new position in the White House that serves as an advisor to the president on border communities. This person will direct an Interagency Task Force on Border Community Prosperity and coordinate the entire federal government’s investment in our border communities.

She will end Trump’s deployment of military forces to the border.

She will immediately stop the construction of Trump’s wall on the border between Mexico and the United States. She will also work to repeal the sections of law that allow the federal government to waive federal procurement rules or environmental impact reviews.

Despite the immediate public health threat, the Trump administration is demanding that we cut spending elsewhere to pay for emergency funding we need to prepare for and respond to coronavirus — so she is introducing a bill in the Senate to redirect funding diverted to the wall toward coronavirus instead.

She will end Constitution-Free Zones: She will  hold immigration enforcement to the same due process and standards as other law enforcement agencies — no more warrantless property searches, no more arbitrary stops, no more violations of basic Constitutional rights. 

She will reverse the Trump administration’s policy giving Border Patrol agents the power to make “credible fear” determinations for asylum-seekers rather than asylum officers.

She will invest resources in more culturally competent asylum officers and immigration judges and better coordinate a full federal government response to the humanitarian crisis at the border, just like we would with FEMA under a natural disaster.

She will pardon those convicted of providing food and water to migrants — because no one should go to jail simply for providing humanitarian aid to another person in need.

She supports requiring Custom and Border Patrol (CBP) agents to wear body cameras, a best practice in local law enforcement that reduces use-of-force incidents and increases transparency.

She will crack down on dangerous anti-immigrant vigilante militias at the border, which often include members of hate groups or individuals with a history of violence, including against U.S. citizens.

She will create a Border Health Initiative within the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy to focus on strengthening these health institutions in ways that serve the unique needs of this region and its people.

She will build a 21st century border economy by investing in our ports of entry.
 

The campaign recently did a Texas Latino Engagement tour — and listened and learned from hundreds of Latino, Latina, and Latinx people in San Antonio, Laredo, McAllen, Corpus Christi, and Houston.
 
Elizabeth will be in San Antonio with former Secretary of HUD Julián Castro today.
 
Read her plan here and below
 
Justice for Border Communities
 
Communities along the U.S.-Mexico border represent a confluence of cultures, a place where people of different walks of life all pursue the American Dream. The true heart and soul of the border is found in the teenagers using their quinceñeras to register their neighbors to vote, in the Good Samaritans leaving water for desperate migrants in the desert, in the citizens of El Paso-Juarez healing in the wake of a white nationalist terrorist attack against Latinos, in community members and leaders protesting wall construction in Tucson, and in Native Americans fighting to protect their homeland and sacred sites.
 
Today the construction of Trump’s border wall is harming local communities along our borders. The Trump administration has begun blasting at Organ Pipe Cactus Monument without the permission of and meaningful consultation with the Tohono O’odham Nation. Long-time residents are seeing their property carved up. Wall construction puts border communities at risk of severe flooding. The Trump administration has ignored critical federal environmental protections, damaging wildlife refuges. And there have been far too many stories like that of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 2 year old daughter Valeria, who drowned in the Rio Grande, or of Gurupreet Kaur, who died in the Arizona desert just one month shy of turning 7-years-old.
 
But the challenges at the border did not start with Donald Trump’s ignorance and bigotry. For decades, decisions made in Washington have divided and disrupted communities, cities, Tribal Nations, and families — many of whom have lived along what is now the border for longer than the United States has even existed.
 
The 15 million residents living in our Southern borderlands — from Brownsville, Texas to San Diego, California — deserve a champion and a partner in the White House. Building an America that reflects our values means elevating the voices of those who have traditionally been overlooked and underserved. We’ve got to make sure everyone has a seat at the table, and that includes border communities and immigrant advocacy groups. In my first 100 days, I will convene a borderlands summit, bringing together federal, state, and local representatives, Tribal Nations, members of the business community, community organizations, and stakeholders to undo the harm of the Trump administration and create more prosperity in the region. I will also create a new position in the White House that serves as an advisor to the president on border communities. This person will direct an Interagency Task Force on Border Community Prosperity and coordinate the entire federal government’s investment in our border communities.
 
A Warren administration will ensure accountability in our border communities by rolling back the Trump administration’s incessant militarization of the border, creating a fair and welcoming immigration system, and respecting the rights of people and our fragile border ecosystem. I’ll fight for healthy and safe border communities with affordable housing, high-quality education, health care, and economic opportunities. And together, we’ll build a 21st century border economy by boosting small businesses, growing access to financial services, closing the digital divide, uplifting labor and environmental protections through trade, and developing the green workforce of the future.
 
Accountability in Border Communities
 
We need a federal government that’s accountable to our border communities. That means an immigration system that keeps families together, preserves our security, grows our economy, honors our Constitution, and reflects our values. That also means an approach to national security that respects the rights of people and our fragile border ecosystems. As president, my administration will:
 
Welcome those in need and protect rights and due process. My immigration plan commits to decriminalizing migration, significantly reducing detention and ending private detention facilities, providing rights and due process for all immigrants, reaffirming asylum protections for those fleeing violence, and ending policies like metering and the “Remain in Mexico” policy. As president, I’ll also reverse the Trump administration’s policy giving Border Patrol agents the power to make “credible fear” determinations for asylum-seekers rather than asylum officers. A Warren administration will invest resources in more culturally competent asylum officers and immigration judges and better coordinate a full federal government response to the humanitarian crisis at the border, just like we would with FEMA during a natural disaster. And I’ll pardon those convicted of providing food and water to migrants — because no one should go to jail simply for providing humanitarian aid to another person in need.
 
Remake CBP and ICE in a way that reflects our values. We spend billions of dollars each year on a massive and cruel immigration detention and enforcement system that breaks up families and keeps thousands locked up — with little evidence that it makes our nation safer. A Warren administration will reshape CBP and ICE from top to bottom, reducing funding for detention and instead focusing their efforts on ports of entry and homeland security efforts like screening cargo, identifying counterfeit goods, and preventing smuggling and trafficking. And to change the culture, I’ll insist on transparency and strengthen the authorities of independent internal watchdogs to prevent future abuses. I’ll designate a Justice Department task force to investigate accusations of serious violations, and give it independent authority to pursue any substantiated criminal allegations.
 
The Supreme Court ruling that a family can’t seek damages after their son was killed by a border patrol agent because he was on the Mexican side of the border when the agent shot him shows us that our system of accountability is broken. In spite of the Supreme Court’s decision, a few steps to one side of the border or another should not serve to forfeit basic rights. As president, I’ll work to reverse the decision legislatively in order to ensure accountability for victims of border patrol violence — regardless of the side of the border. Furthermore, I support requiring Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents to wear body cameras, a best practice in local law enforcement that reduces use-of-force incidents and increases transparency. And as new technology is deployed, a Warren administration will monitor violations of privacy and limit the use of facial-recognition software. Let there be no ambiguity on this: if you are violating the basic rights of immigrants, now or in the future, a Warren administration will hold you accountable.
 
Stop Trump’s Militarization of the Border. Despite Trump’s rhetoric, the people seeking asylum at the southern border are not a threat to our national security. And Trump’s wall is a monument to hate — and only the latest attempt to treat the southern border as a war zone rather than as a vibrant community. Many of the apprehensions at the border are families and children who commonly turn themselves in to Border Patrol to apply for asylumThis is a humanitarian crisis in need of medical doctors, immigration lawyers, and social workers — not military troops. As president, I will end Trump’s deployment of military forces to the border. I’ve listened to communities at the border when they say we do not need Trump’s failed wall, and I will immediately stop the construction of Trump’s wall on the border between Mexico and the United States. I will also work to repeal the sections of law that allow the federal government to waive federal procurement rules or environmental impact reviews. Despite the immediate public health threat, the Trump administration is demanding that we cut spending elsewhere to pay for emergency funding we need to prepare for and respond to coronavirus — so I am introducing a bill in the Senate to redirect funding diverted to the wall toward coronavirus instead. We need to get our priorities straight and focus on keeping the American people safe, rather than funding some useless vanity project. Let’s be clear: our border communities are not a war zone.
 
End Constitution-Free Zones. CBP has the authority to operate within 100 miles of any “external boundary” — an area deep into the interior of the country that covers about 200 million people, including 9 of the 10 largest U.S. cities. The Border Patrol operates numerous immigration checkpoints and regularly stops people to check their immigration status, raising concerns about racial profiling and violations of the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections. During natural disasters and daily life, immigrant families are afraid to travel freely in their own communities. Citizens of Tribal Nations such as the Tohono O’odham Nation who have tribal ID cards face unnecessary hurdles with border patrol checkpoints. Agents also have the authority to enter private property (except dwellings) 25 miles from the border, which includes almost all of El Paso. There is no reason Border Patrol agents should have special access to private property without receiving a warrant from a judge just like the rest of law enforcement. As president, I will hold immigration enforcement to the same due process and standards as other law enforcement agencies — no more warrantless property searches, no more arbitrary stops, no more violations of basic Constitutional rights. It’s time to rein in CBP, and ensure everyone’s rights are respected.
 
Root Out White NationalismWe need to call out white nationalism for what it is—domestic terrorism. It is a threat to American safety and security. In a Warren administration, we will use every tool we have to defeat it, and that includes from within our military, our law enforcement, and our immigration enforcement agencies. To start, I will instruct these federal agencies to tighten their background check processes and to better track incidents of bias crimes and reports of affiliation with white nationalist or neo-Nazi groups in their ranks. Extremist ideology is a threat to our values, and it has no place inside our government. As part of my plan to reshape ICE and CBP, I’ve said that I will strengthen the authorities of independent internal watchdogs to prevent future abuses. This includes tasking the Inspectors General at both agencies to focus explicitly on reports of bias crimes or racism on the job. A Warren administration will have zero tolerance for these types of infractions.
 
From the 1918 Porvenir massacre through today, we must also recognize the long history of racist violence along the U.S.-Mexico border. Tragically, we have seen how this horrific history repeated itself just last August, when a white nationalist, directly echoing the rhetoric of President Trump, drove hundreds of miles to commit an act of terror against the people of El Paso. As I laid out in my plan to combat white nationalism, combatting white nationalist crime will be a top priority for the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security in a Warren administration. My administration will also work with federal and local law enforcement to crack down on dangerous anti-immigrant vigilante militias at the border, which often include members of hate groups or individuals with a history of violence, including against U.S. citizens.

Respect Tribal Sovereignty. My plan for public lands includes aggressive steps to stop private interests from pillaging sacred lands. I will use all legal authorities, including the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, to protect sacred sites like Organ Pipe. And absent extraordinary circumstances, respect for tribal sovereignty means that no project, development or federal decision that will have a significant impact on a tribal community, their lands, resources, members or religious practices, should proceed without the free, prior, and informed consent of the Tribal Nation concerned. I have also called for a new Sacred Lands Religious Freedom Restoration Act to dramatically improve the ability of Tribal Nations to block the imposition of development, extraction, and land use decisions with respect to tribal lands.
 
Fighting for Safe, Healthy, High-Quality Living on the Border
 
A generation of barely budging wages and rising costs for basics like housing, health care, child care, and education have squeezed family budgets. Many families living in communities at our borders are hanging on by their fingernails.
 
A lack of affordable housing and decades of systemic discrimination has driven hundreds of thousands of people, predominantly U.S. citizens of Mexican-descent, in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California to live in neighborhoods, called colonias, without basic necessities like potable water, electricity, and safe housing. Border communities have uninsured rates that are much higher than the national average and have some of the highest rates of chronic diseases like diabetes in the country. In the colonias in Texas, over 50% of adults do not have a high school diploma.
 
A Warren administration will:
 
Invest in safe and affordable housing for all. My Housing Plan for America invests $500 billion over the next ten years to build, preserve, and rehab more than three million units that will be affordable to lower-income families — including $523 million to create 380,000 affordable rental homes in rural communities and $2.5 billion to build or rehabilitate 200,000 homes on tribal lands, where overcrowding, homelessness, and substandard housing have reached crisis levels. My plan will lower rents by 10%, reform land-use rules that restrict affordable housing construction and further racial segregation, and take a critical first step towards closing the racial wealth gap. My plan to protect and empower renters tackles the growing cost of rent, strengthens fair housing law and enforcement, fights for a nationwide right to counsel for low-income tenants in eviction proceedings, and creates a national small dollar grant program to help make sure families aren’t evicted because of financial emergencies.
 

My administration will also take on “land contracts” agreements, predatory loans that are frequently targeted at communities of color and are prevalent in border communitiesIn these contracts, tenant-buyers can be subject to unjust eviction proceedings, homes can be in such bad condition they’re basically uninhabitable, interest rates exorbitantly high, and in the case of some colonias, developers have failed to provide basic infrastructure like a sewer system or paved roads. And because of the “forfeiture clause” embedded in these kinds of agreements, if tenants fall behind on these high-interest payments, lenders can seize the property — and keep the payments that have been made as “liquidated damages.” Texas is one state that has moved toward increasing protections after a certain amount has been paid, but there’s more we can do. I’ll choose a CFPB Director committed to reining in land contracts, work with states to require that these contracts be recorded to collect better data and formalize land titling, and strengthen protections and rights of these residents to ensure their property isn’t lost to exploitative practices and can be passed onto future generations.
 

Protect Clean Water. Clean water is vital to our health and welfare and to our economy. But decades of environmental racism have allowed corporate polluters to pump dangerous amounts of pollution into our border communities and unaccountable developers to leave these communities without the resources and infrastructure to take it on. 30% of people living in colonias don’t have safe drinking water. Meanwhile, border communities have been battling toxic waste dumping in their neighborhoods. And yet, Trump’s 2021 budget proposal eliminates much of the federal money allocated for water and wastewater projects that could have been used to work towards clean drinking water in border regions.
 
A Warren administration will invest in our nation’s water systems. I have committed to fully capitalize the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to refurbish old water infrastructure and support ongoing water treatment operations and maintenance, prioritizing the communities most heavily impacted by inadequate water infrastructure. I will also fully enforce Safe Drinking Water Act standards for all public water systems and aggressively regulate chemicals that make their way into our water supply, including from agricultural runoff. I’ll restore all funding to water and wastewater projects the Trump administration has proposed to eliminate. And, for the thousands of people who rely on private sources for drinking water, a Warren administration will fight for adequate funding so that everyone can have access to safe water. I’ll also make giant agribusinesses pay the full costs of the environmental damage they wreak on the border communities that surround them by closing the loopholes that they use to get away with polluting and by beefing up enforcement of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts against them.
 
Guarantee High-Quality Health Care. Border communities face unique health care challenges. Poor coverage means that people cross from Imperial County, California or Southwest Arizona to Los Algodones, Mexico for affordable dental care. The majority of counties along the Southern border have limited access to maternity care. People in need of reproductive care in the Rio Grande Valley are facing barriers to care due to clinic closures, traveling hundreds of miles, and facing long waiting periods.
 

Health care is a human right and that’s why we need Medicare for All. Under Medicare for All, every single person in this country will be able to see the doctor they need and get their recommended treatments. As president, I will immediately act to lower the cost of prescription drugs, using every available tool to bring pressure on the big drug companies and bring down the high costs of many common prescription drugs, including Insulin. And within 100 days, I’ll work with Congress to expand coverage to every American by expanding Medicare and creating a Medicare for All option that is free for all kids and families at or below 200 percent of poverty.
 

While we work to deliver Medicare for All, a Warren administration will roll back the Trump administration’s efforts to rip health coverage away from people. The Trump administration’s reinterpretation of Section 1557 would undermine critical nondiscrimination protections, weakening requirements to make health information language-accessible. As president, I will direct HHS to reinstate the Obama administration’s 2016 guidance that fully upholds civil rights and nondiscrimination protections. I’ll roll back the Trump administration’s Public Charge rule change, which is harming immigrants with disabilities and forcing immigrant families to choose between staying together and ensuring their children can get critical services. And I’ll reverse the Trump administration’s harmful Medicaid policies, like work requirements and block grants, that take coverage away from low-income individuals and families.
 
Strengthen the Health System. While coverage is critical, it’s only part of ensuring access to high-quality care. We also have a responsibility to make sure that places that have experienced a loss in services or are otherwise medically underserved get support to improve their health systems and meet the needs of their communities.
 
That’s why I’ve committed to protecting health care in rural communities by creating a new designation under Medicare for rural hospitals, ending the harmful effects of consolidation, and dramatically increasing funding for Community Health Centers. I will also establish a $25 billion dollar capital fund to support a menu of options for improving care in health professional shortage areasincluding: constructing a new facility like a Community Health Center, Rural Health Clinic, School-Based Health Center, or birthing center; expanding capacity or services at an existing clinic; establishing pharmacy services or a telemedicine program; supporting a diabetes self-management education program; improving transportation to the nearest hospital; or piloting models like mobile clinics and community paramedicine programs. A Warren administration will also expand our health care workforce by investing more resources in building the pipeline of culturally-competent and language-inclusive medical professionals in rural areas and other areas with shortages, from physicians to promotoras.
 
But we also need to support robust public health efforts to keep these communities healthy and prepared to handle potential outbreaks — and to work in partnership with the international community, including Mexico, in our global health response. That’s why I’ve committed to fully fund the critical agencies that support our public health infrastructure. To double down on this commitment in the border region, I will also create a Border Health Initiative within the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy to focus on strengthening these institutions in ways that serve the unique needs of this region and its people.
 
Fight for high-quality education from the earliest years through college. 33 of the 44 counties along the Southern border are non-metropolitan counties. Today, a majority of rural communities lack sufficient access to child care. My plan for Universal Child Care will provide high-quality child care free for millions and affordable for everyone. My administration will also work closely with local providers and tribal governments to make sure there are high-quality child care options available in every community — including home-based child care services. And as part of a comprehensive early childhood education system, I will ensure all children can attend free high-quality universal pre-K.
 
As president, I will make a historic $800 billion investment in our nation’s public schools, supporting students in the classroom and preparing them for college and career readiness. I’ll invest at least an additional $50 billion in school infrastructure across the country – targeted at the schools that need it most. My Environmental Justice plan establishes a lead abatement grant program focused on schools. And I will fully fund the Bureau of Indian Education schools to support major construction and repair backlogs.
 
I’m also committed to protecting English Language Learners by enforcing their rights to meaningful access to rigorous coursework, teachers, special education services, and integration with the rest of the student body, while fostering their home language. And I will protect the rights of immigrant students, ensuring that all immigrant children have access to a quality education, no matter their native language, national origin, or immigration status.
 
Border states are facing an acute teacher shortage. My administration will treat teachers and staff like the professionals they are by strengthening the ability of educators to organize and bargain for just compensation and ensure that educators aren’t drowning in debt. I’ll also build a more diverse teacher and school leadership pipeline by investing in Grow Your Own and teacher residency programs. And I will push to fully fund the Teacher Quality Partnership program to support teacher residency programs in high-need areas, like rural communities, and in areas of expertise like Special Education and Bilingual Education.
 
My student debt cancellation and universal public college plan will cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt for more than 95% of Americans who carry it and make two-year or four-year public college or technical school free. My plan also makes a minimum $50 billion investment in HBCUs, Hispanic Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and other Minority-Serving Institutions.
 
Prevent Gun Violence in Border Communities and in Mexico. After Trump, we’ll have work to do to restore our relationship with our Mexican neighbors. One area where we can begin to make improvements immediately is in stopping the flow of American guns to Mexico. As Mexico struggles with record violence, Americans must face the fact that our weak gun laws have not only fed an epidemic of gun violence at home, but are also a leading driver of instability among our neighbors. This instability in turn is displacing people across Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America, feeding the humanitarian crisis that border communities in both the U.S. and Mexico are facing today. I will fight to end gun violence, recognizing that this is part of addressing the root causes of migration and improving our relationship with Mexico. And as president, I will pass a new federal anti-trafficking law making clear “straw purchases” are a federal crime and prosecute gun traffickers by instructing my Attorney General to go after the transnational gun trade with all the resources of the federal government.

Building a 21st Century Border Economy
 
A thriving border economy is crucial to the economic wellbeing of the rest of our country. And when Trump has threatened to shut it down, the ramifications have been felt quickly and acutely. In 2018, a 5 hour border crossing closure at San Ysidro in California — the busiest land border crossing in the world — cost local businesses $5.3 millionWe need a strong border economy that works for everyone. That means investments in local small businesses, growing access to financial services, closing the digital divide, trade that uplifts labor and environmental protections, and developing the green workforce of the future.
 
Boosting Small Businesses. Small businesses are essential to the prosperity of border communities, but these businesses have been harmed by increased border militarization and Trump’s reckless tariff by tweet approach to trade. People along the U.S.-Mexico border also confront barriers to accessing the capital and financial services necessary to start and grow their businesses — barriers that disproportionately affect Latino, Native American, and Black entrepreneurs. My comprehensive agenda to boost America’s small businesses will level the playing field for small business owners on the border by providing access to credit, helping small businesses deal with regulatory requirements, and unleashing the full purchasing power of the federal government to support small businesses.
 
Protecting and Expanding Financial Services. The number of rural counties without a locally owned community bank has doubled since 1994, and border communities are increasingly becoming banking deserts. I’ve proposed allowing the U.S. Postal Service to partner with local community banks and credit unions to provide access to low-cost, basic banking services online and at post offices. A Warren Administration will also strengthen lending to small businesses in underserved areas by expanding support for Community Development Financial Institutions, which provide an important source of funding for women, people of color, and rural communities. As president, my administration will also protect immigrant families sending remittances by enacting stronger rules at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau around remittances to ensure fees are transparent, and I will oppose President Trump’s proposed tax on remittances that targets wire transfers to Mexico, Latin America, and the Caribbean to pay for his wall.
 
Extend Broadband to Border Communities. The communities along the U.S.-Mexico border have some of the lowest levels of internet connectivity in the nation. This digital divide is a major barrier for people to find jobs, students to complete homework, small business to connect to new markets, and it holds back the entire community. That’s why as president, I will make it clear in federal statute that municipalities have the right to build their own broadband networks and establish a new $85 billion federal grant program to massively expand broadband access across the country. I will also require all telecommunications services to contribute fairly into the Universal Service Fund to shore up essential universal service programs that provide subsidies to low-income individuals, schools, and libraries to increase broadband adoption – because every home in America deserves a fiber broadband connection at a price families can afford.
 
Decreasing Wait Times. Under the Trump Administration, wait times at ports of entry are dramatically increasing, reducing trade and commerce and even impacting air quality for surrounding communities. Every day almost $2 billion worth of products crosses the U.S.-Mexico border, but delays in Texas can exceed 10 hours — this is unacceptable. In places like Deming, New Mexico, students pushed across the border because of unaffordable housing or to be with deported family members get up at dawn to wait hours through highly-militarized security checks to make it to school on the U.S.-side on time. An estimated 40,000 children cross the U.S.-Mexico border for school every day.  First, we will invest in dedicated pedestrian lanes for both U.S. citizens and students, and the “All Lanes Open Initiative” so that there is better traffic flow during the morning rush and expand the program to include evenings. We also need to completely repeal the “hardening measures,” such as concrete barriers topped with razor wire, and limit “tactical exercises” that create choke points and slow down traffic. With the passage of the USMCA, we will increase the number of custom officials and invest in modern technology to more efficiently and effectively inspect and verify goods.
 
Leveling the Playing Field with Trade. As a Senator, I voted for the USMCA — the revised NAFTA agreement. I supported the agreement because it made some improvements for American workers, farmers, and consumers, and Mexican workers too. It guarantees the right to organize for Mexican workers, provides for new investments in combating pollution such as $300 million to stop cross-border sewage flows, and strengthens diplomatic ties with our neighbors at a time that President Trump seeks to divide us.

But we will do much better for border communities in a Warren administration. We need a new approach to trade that works for Americans who have been left behind, including the communities on the U.S.-Mexico border. Instead of pursuing a race to the bottom when it comes to worker’s rights and environmental protection, it is time to use our leverage of the American market to encourage other countries, including Mexico, to elevate their policies. When we raise labor and environmental standards worldwide, we help millions of people living abroad and let American workers compete on a more level playing field.
 
Building the Green Workforce of the Future. Border states are emerging as leaders of the new green economy. Texas is the leading producer of wind energy in the country, California is the leading producer of solar energy, and clean energy investments in New Mexico and Arizona are on the rise. To really bend the curve on climate, we’ll need sustained big, structural change across a range of industries and sectors. My administration will commit to investments in retraining, joint labor management apprenticeships, and creating strong career pipelines to ensure a continuous supply of skilled, available workers. And, we will look for every opportunity to partner with high schools and vocational schools to build pathways to the middle class for kids who opt not to go to college. Outside experts that have looked at my ideas for a Green New Deal to analyze how they will drive job creation have estimated that they will create 10.6 million new green jobs. That means millions of new clean energy jobs in border states and honoring our commitments and a just transition for fossil fuel workers, so that no one is left behind.
 
Honoring our Border Servicemembers and Veterans. Military bases and military families are key drivers of local border economies, from the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma to Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio. Rather than defunding military projects — like military base child care facilities — to build Trump’s “wall”, we should be investing in military readiness, infrastructure, and veterans and their families. From military housing and child care to a 21st century VA system, I will keep our promise to care for our nation’s veterans, service members, and military families.

Read the plan here

Democratic Candidates for 2020: Warren Releases Plan to Protect and Empower Renters

Senator Elizabeth Warren has released a detailed plan to protect and empower renters as part of the fight to end the affordable housing crisis. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Elizabeth Warren has released a detailed plan to protect and empower renters as part of the fight to end the affordable housing crisis. This is from the Warren campaign:
 
A full-time, minimum-wage worker can’t afford a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the nation. Gentrification is displacing communities of color, rising rents are crushing millions of families, and landlords are exploiting their power over tenants.
 
Elizabeth’s Housing Plan for America will invest $500 billion over the next ten years to build, preserve, and rehab more than three million housing units that will be affordable to working families. Her plan will lower rents by 10% nationwide, reform land-use rules that restrict affordable housing construction and further racial segregation, and take a critical first step towards closing the racial wealth gap.
 
Today, she released an additional plan to expand on those efforts to protect and empower renters. Her plan will:

Protect and uphold the rights of tenants
 

Tackle the growing cost of rent
 

Invest in safe, healthy, and green public housing
 

Fight exploitation by corporate landlords

Read more about her plan here and below:
 
Protecting and Empowering Renters
 
Everyone in America should have a decent, affordable, and safe place to live. But today, stagnant wagessky-rocketing rents, and a stark shortage of affordable options are putting the squeeze on America’s 43 million renting households. 
 
In 2015, 38% of renters were “rent burdened” — spending over 30% of their income in rent. In 2017, 23 million low-income renters paid more than half of their total household income on housing. Many renters also face high energy bills, with low-income renters paying as much as 21% of their income because of energy inefficient housing. A full-time, minimum-wage worker can’t afford a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the nation. Gentrification is displacing communities of color, rising rents are crushing millions of families, and landlords are exploiting their power over tenants.
 
But for decades, the federal government has turned a blind eye to our growing affordable housing crisis. When the government has made investments, it’s focused largely on homeownership. From Nixon’s moratorium on new public housing construction to Reagan’s severe cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s rental assistance program to today’s corporate capture of the right to shelter, Washington has failed America’s renters. To make matters worse, every single Trump administration budget has slashed funding for HUD’s budget.
 
And shamelessly, some of the same Wall Street firms that tanked the dream of homeownership for millions of American families are now the country’s biggest landlords — profiting off the destruction they caused. In the wake of the 2008 crisis, private equity firms like Blackstone went on a shopping spree, snatching up apartment complexes and single-family homes that had been foreclosed. Even the United Nations Special Rapporteurs have reported on their aggressive eviction tactics, the discriminatory impact of their policies on communities of color, and their lobbying efforts against legislation that would protect renters — and accused them of contributing to the global housing crisis.
 
My Housing Plan for America invests $500 billion over the next ten years to build, preserve, and rehab more than three million units that will be affordable to lower-income families. My plan will lower rents by 10%, reform land-use rules that restrict affordable housing construction and further racial segregation, and take a critical first step towards closing the racial wealth gap.
 
Today, I’m expanding on those efforts with my plan to protect and empower renters. It has four goals:

Protect and uphold the rights of tenants
 

Tackle the growing cost of rent
 

Invest in safe, healthy, and green public housing
 

Fight exploitation by corporate landlords

Protect and uphold the rights of tenants

We’ll start by strengthening the rights of tenants. Over 805,000 renter households were threatened with eviction in 2017. When landlords evict tenants, families lose their homes, parents may lose their jobs, kids suffer in schools, and whole communities, especially communities of color, can be displaced by gentrification and skyrocketing rents. In many communities, landlords dramatically hike rents after evicting tenants, driving housing costs up for everyone.
 
Most cities and towns in America allow “no fault” or “no cause” evictions, in which landlords can evict renters for no reason at all, even if they haven’t fallen behind on rent or violated a single lease provision. In other jurisdictions, landlords can refuse to renew leases for any reason at all, including to retaliate against tenants who organize or to flip homes families have lived in for decades into luxury housing, or they can add passthrough fees on top of rent. And in other cases, landlords will make homes so unlivable — for example, by shutting off heat in the winter or neglecting repair requests  — that tenants are “constructively evicted” and have no choice but to leave. In Reno, where there are only 21 affordable housing units per 100 extremely low-income residents, the unjust eviction rate climbed by 300% from 2002 to 2017.
 
Tenants that organize to take on bad landlords are up against a massive power imbalance. I’ll fight to put power back where it belongs: with tenants, not big corporate landlords.
 
Landlords shouldn’t be able to arbitrarily push families out of their communities to make an extra buck or because of thinly-veiled racism and discrimination. I’ll work to secure tenants’ rights nationwide — including by creating a federal just cause eviction standard, a right to lease renewal, protections against constructive eviction, and tenants’ right to organize. To enforce these rights, I’ll condition the $500 billion in new affordable housing funding to states from my housing plan on states affirmatively adopting these key tenant protections. Judges in eviction proceedings would also be required to consider how an eviction might harm a tenant’s health conditions or a child’s ability to stay enrolled in local public schools, and to temporarily stay evictions if tenants can’t find another home in the same neighborhood.
 
As President, I’ll also fight for a nationwide right-to-counsel for low-income tenants.

In 2010, 90% of tenants in eviction proceedings weren’t represented by lawyers, but 90% of landlords were. That legal help matters. Legal representation can significantly increase success in for tenants in their cases, keep eviction filings off their records, and prevent them from having to enter homeless shelters. That’s why I’ll fight to create a national housing right-to-counsel fund  which would provide grants to cities to guarantee access to counsel for low- and middle-income tenants who are facing eviction or taking their landlord to court for violations like breaching their lease, shutting off their heat and water, or violating the housing code. And I’ll fight to create a new tenants’ cause of action that allows tenants to sue landlords who threaten or begin an illegal eviction.
 
I’ll also push to create a new Tenant Protection Bureau within the Department of Housing and Urban Development — modeled after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) — to enforce tenants’ rights, take on bad actors, and make sure landlords keep affordable housing affordable for working families. Before the financial crash, I came up with the idea for a consumer financial protection agency— a new federal agency dedicated to protecting American consumers. I fought for that agency, helped build it from scratch, and now the CFPB has returned nearly $12 billion directly to consumers scammed by financial institutions.
 
Tenants deserve a cop on the beat too. My new Tenant Protection Bureau, housed within HUD, would enforce these federal tenant protections, like just-cause eviction, for tenants in all federally-funded affordable housing developments, ensure safe and decent living conditions, and guarantee that landlords don’t illegally raise rents or fees in federally-subsidized housing. The Tenant Protection Bureau will also empower community organizers with grants to state and local groups who will sue for violations of tenant protections.
 
Tenants face similar dynamics to borrowers facing unscrupulous banks or servicers. I’ll create a tenant hotline modeled after the CFPB consumer complaint database that will route complaints from tenants to their landlords through HUD, which could review the data for enforcement opportunities and share the data with local officials and organizations to help them enforce local protections.
 
I’ll strengthen fair housing law and enforcement, giving HUD the tools to take on modern-day redlining. A 2017 study in Virginia found that Black tenants were more likely to be evicted, even accounting for different income levels. Research has also shown that low-income women in Black and Latinx neighborhoods face a heightened risk of eviction. Fifty years after the passage of the Fair Housing Act (FHA), housing segregation enduresgentrification is pushing communities of color out of the neighborhoods they built, people with disabilities face pervasive discrimination, and nearly a quarter of transgender people report experiencing housing discrimination.
 
We need to renew our fight against housing discrimination, and I’ll start on day one. I’ll restore the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, which the Trump Administration put on ice. The AFFH rule would fulfill the FHA’s promise to end housing segregation by requiring local governments to identify housing policies and practices with racist effects and undo them. I’ll also roll back the Trump administration’s effort to add work requirements to housing assistance. And I’ll withdraw Trump’s racist proposed “mixed status” rule which, according to HUD’s own analysis, would effectively evict tens of thousands of families and 55,000 children based on the immigration status of household family members.
 
The Trump Administration is also trying to weaken HUD’s Disparate Impact Rule, immunizing landlords who use discriminatory algorithms to screen out tenants and making it far harder to hold bad actors accountable. I’ll protect the disparate impact rule so that tenants have the tools to challenge zoning regulations that discriminate against people with disabilities, predatory lending practices that target communities of color, and algorithmic redlining.
 
But reversing the Trump Administration’s attacks on civil rights isn’t enough. The FHA protects against discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. To start, I’ll make sure that HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, which has been gutted and undercut by the Trump administration, is fully funded, staffed, and equipped to robustly enforce the FHA — which is particularly critical for renters with disabilities who make up the majority of discrimination complaints.
 
My affordable housing bill would prohibit housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, veteran status, and source of income, like a housing voucher. Under a Warren Administration, HUD will issue regulations to the greatest extent it can under the Fair Housing Act to end housing discrimination against domestic violence survivors, LGBTQ+ people, and based on tenants’ immigration status or criminal records. I’ll fight for the Equality Act, which would explicitly ban anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination in employment, housing, healthcare, and public accommodations. I’ll also direct HUD to take on chronic nuisance ordinances — local laws that push domestic violence survivors, especially Black women, and people with disabilities, out of their homes. And I support immigration reform that’s consistent with our values, including a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants — which would make them eligible for public housing benefits.
 
I’ll also create a national small dollar grant program to help make sure families aren’t evicted because of financial emergencies. I spent my career studying why families go broke — so I know that it’s all too easy for a family to fall behind on rent after a surprise trip to the emergency room or car repair. Massachusetts pioneered several programs that provide small grants to help families facing a one-time budget crunch, like the Homestart program, which provides grants of on average $700 and some wraparound services to help families avoid eviction. It’s been reported that 95% of their eviction prevention program recipients remain in their homes four years later. I’ll fight to scale this program up nationwide, likely saving federal, state, and local governments money by helping families stay out of emergency homeless shelters.
 
While nobody should be homeless in America, we need to stop treating our neighbors who are experiencing homelessness as criminals. All across the country, cities and states make it illegal to live on the street, even when there are fewer emergency shelter beds than people who need them — 34% of cities have city-wide bans on camping in public, 43% of cities prohibit sleeping in vehicles, and 9% of cities even prohibit sharing food with homeless people. Even as the affordable housing crisis deepens, pushing more people out of affordable housing, these laws are spreading — just this month the Las Vegas City Council voted to criminalize camping on downtown streets. Enough is enough — it’s time to stop criminalizing poverty. My Department of Justice will not fund efforts to criminalize homelessness and will deny grant money to police departments who are arresting residents for living outside.
 
I’ve also already committed to preventing and combating the epidemic of LGBTQ+ youth, transgender, and veterans homelessness. My LGBTQ+ rights plan commits to reauthorizing and fully funding the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act and to creating a LGBTQ+ youth homelessness prevention program within the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. And I will restore and strengthen the HUD Equal Access Rule, reversing Ben Carson’s horrific proposal to allow shelters to discriminate against transgender women – so if a trans women of color loses her home, she doesn’t face widespread discrimination from homeless shelters. My plan to support our veterans calls to fully fund rapid re-housing and permanent supporting housing through the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) and HUD-VASH programs and to create a new competitive grant program to provide wrap-around services for veterans and their families. As we fight to end homelessness and expand affordable housing, we won’t leave any groups behind.
 
Tackling the growing cost of rent.
 
My Housing Plan for America tackles the growing cost of rent at its root: a severe lack of affordable housing supply and state and local land-use rules that needlessly drive up housing costs. My plan would add more than 3 million new affordable housing units, and I’ll commit to prioritizing a portion of these units to particularly vulnerable groups like the chronically homeless, people living with HIV, people with disabilities, seniors who want to age in place, and people who have been incarcerated and are returning to the community. My plan will bring down the rents by 10% nationwide and make targeted investments in rural housing programs and in a new Middle-Class Housing Emergency Fund to support the construction of new housing for middle-class renters in communities with severe housing supply shortages. My plan also invests $2.5 billion in the Indian Housing Block Grant and the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant to build or rehabilitate 200,000 homes on tribal land.
 
We’ll also incentivize the elimination of costly zoning rules — like minimum lot sizes or parking requirements — with a $10 billion new competitive grant program that state and local government can use to build infrastructure, parks, roads, or schools on the condition that they reform land-use rules to allow for the construction of additional well-located affordable housing units and to protect tenants from rent spikes and eviction. And in doing all of this, my plan would create 1.5 million new jobs.
 
But we must do more. More than 30 states have laws on the books that explicitly prohibit cities from adopting rent control — and when tenants and communities fight to repeal those laws, they’re met with fierce opposition from real estate and private equity giants that have shelled out massive amounts of money to block them. States shouldn’t be able to suppress local innovation or stop towns and cities from adopting the housing policies that best protect their residents. That’s why my administration will work to stop states from preempting local tenant protection laws, including rent control. A Warren Administration will side with people over private equity. I’ll condition the new affordable housing money from my Housing plan that goes to states on repealing state laws that prohibit local rent control laws and other tenant protections.
 
States and local governments across the country have adopted a number of different strategies to tackle rising rent costs. This year, Oregon and California became the first states to pass statewide rental control measures. From Maryland to Colorado, communities across the country have been testing out the community land trust model, to try to break the link between the cost of the land and the private, speculative market. As President, I’ll create an Innovation Lab in HUD to study strategies that keep rents affordable such as rent control, multi-year leases, zoning reform, and community land trusts, and share data on what works and best practices. I’ll also bring together a commission of federal, state, and local government officials, public housing administrators, housing justice organizations, homelessness advocates, and tenants’ unions to discuss affordability and strategies to address it.
 
I’ll direct HUD to recognize strategies that prevent gentrification and displacement of long time communities as ways for meeting jurisdictions’ obligations under the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule. I’ll also restore and improve the Small Area Fair Market Rent (SAFMR) rule, which the Trump administration has tried to block. SAFMR sets the housing voucher amounts at the zip code level rather than the metro level and promotes integration by allowing vouchers to cover more in neighborhoods with higher rental costs. I’ll also direct HUD to ensure that the shift does not reduce the number of total housing units available to voucher holders, invest additional resources and technical assistance to increase understanding of this rule among public housing authorities (PHAs) and tenants, issue additional guidance on setting payment standards, and make the administrative plans by PHAs of the implementation of this rule publicly available.
 
Invest in safe, healthy, and green public housing.
 
Today, about 2 million people nationwide live in 1.1 million public housing units — and too many are living in homes with lead, rats and roaches, and black mold that jeopardize their health. Tenants who receive HUD rental assistance are more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions or go to an emergency room than other similarly situated renters. Children in these households are more likely to have asthma and face an acute risk of lead poisoning.
 
Public housing is also failing in meeting the needs of Section 8 eligible renters who have disabilities. About 41% of all public housing units are home to a disabled person, but only about 3% of those units actually have accessibility features.
 
The federal government’s decision to scale back or not match inflation when funding public housing has resulted in a national public housing capital repair backlog of $70 billion, leading to inaccessible housing for people with disabilities and substandard living conditions. Because units have been demolished or removed due to uninhabitable conditions, the total number of public housing units has fallen by more than 250,000 since the mid-1990s. And with a median public housing waiting list of 9 months, and in some cases, as long as 8 years, we can’t afford to lose a single unit.
 
As climate change makes summer heat waves and winter cold snaps more severe and disasters more frequent, the number of habitable units could fall even further, and public housing across the country is at risk. Last winter, nearly 90% of New York City Housing Authority units lost heat because of boiler system breakdowns. Some of those same residents dealt with extreme heat in the summer, which can be particularly dangerous to the elderly and residents with disabilities. In Charleston, South Carolina, which is facing rising sea levels, 7 of the PHA’s properties are only a few feet above the high tide level, and across the country, nearly half a million HUD-assisted housing units are in flood zones.
 
We must invest in safe, healthy, and green homes. I’ll start by repealing the Faircloth Amendmentwhich has prohibited the use of federal funds for the construction or operation of new public housing units with Capital or Operating Funds, effectively capping the number of public housing units available at 1999 levels. I’ll fight to completely close the national public housing capital repair backlog, expand disability accessibility, and for 1:1 replacement of any units that have to be removed or demolished. And I’ll fight for investments in new public housing construction. 
 
I’ll also update the rules of major federal housing funding programs, like the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, Housing Trust Fund, Capital Magnet Fund, and Home Grant program, to allow PHAs or other public institutions to use these funds to develop properties and Section 811 PRA housing themselves and maintain public ownership. Under current rules, states are required to contract with private developers. With this change, PHAs and other public institutions will also be able to benefit from the massive investment of my Housing plan. Like existing developments under these programs, these projects would be subsidized to allow low-income tenants to live alongside market rate tenants. And I’ll encourage PHAs to develop a participatory budgeting process with residents on how capital dollars are spent. 
 
I believe that every renter has the right to a healthy home. I have called for retrofitting 4% of our existing building stock each year in my 100% Clean Energy for America plan. I will ensure that public housing units and public schools are prioritized for retrofitting because more efficient homes mean lower energy bills, and the cost of energy should not hold any family back. And I will work across federal agencies to eliminate toxic substances like mold and lead from all housing and drinking water sources by investing in toxic mold removal, establishing a lead abatement grant program to remediate lead in all federal buildings, and providing a Lead Safety Tax Credit to incentivize landlords to invest in remediation for their tenants. I’ll fully fund CDC’s environmental health programs like the Childhood Lead Prevention program, and fully capitalize the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to ensure that nobody’s drinking water is poisoned because of crumbling infrastructure. And I will immediately roll back the amended timeline of the EPA draft rule on lead pipe replacement, which the Trump administration has tried to relax from 13 to 33 years.
 
For all new affordable rental units, I will ensure that the project undergoes an environmental equity screen during both the siting and construction phases so that we do not continue to subject low-income communities to environmental racism through our housing policies. I will direct the Department of Energy to provide technical assistance to utilities to better support and incentivize on-bill financing to further adoption of clean energy, no matter the income, credit, or renter status of each customer.
 
And as we modernize our public housing units, we will build livable communities starting with a new Green Public Housing program that will create millions of jobs and provide climate smart housing. Because of the massive maintenance backlog in America’s public housing, and because the federal government hasn’t funded new public housing construction in decades, many public housing buildings aren’t equipped to withstand the increasingly harsh realities of climate change. I am a proud supporter of the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, which will create grant programs for public housing authorities to conduct deep energy retrofits, prioritize workforce development, upgrade the facilities’ energy efficiency and water quality, allow for community renewable energy generation, and encourage recycling, community resiliency, and climate adaptation. My 100% Clean Energy for America plan calls for all new commercial and residential buildings to have zero carbon pollution by 2028, and this applies to any new public housing development as well. Nobody should have to face substandard living conditions, and through the Green Public Housing program, we will ensure that we raise the standard of living for all renters. 
 
And I will make sure we’re supporting those who have been displaced by disaster. Renters are particularly vulnerable in the wake of natural disasters. But for too long, renters have been overlooked in government post-disaster response and recovery. That’s why I introduced the Housing Survivors of Major Disaster Actwhich will require FEMA to work with HUD to immediately set up the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP) for temporary rental assistance and wraparound services to disaster survivors. This will also support those who might not have residence documentation, to ensure renters without leasing documents and people who are homeless have access to these critical services.
 
Fight the exploitation of renters by corporate landlords. 
 
Since the mortgage crisis, large private equity firms have become some of the country’s biggest landlords — a big win for Wall Street, but a huge loss for America’s renters. Take Blackstone, one of the largest private equity firms in the world. Since 2016, more than 600 complaints have been filed against Blackstone subsidiary Invitation Homes with the Better Business Bureau, and Invitation Homes is currently facing a class action lawsuit in California for subjecting tenants to excessive and illegal late fees.
 
The problems extend to other private equity landlords too. Colony Capital, the third-largest single family landlord in the country, evicted more than 30% of tenants living in its Atlanta rentals. In Memphis, Firstkey Homes, a property management company owned by Cerberus Capital Management, files for eviction at twice the rate of other property managers.
 
We can’t keep letting these firms loot the economy to pad their own pockets while working families suffer. My plan to Rein in Wall Street will hold private equity firms accountable and prevent private equity funds from snatching up properties and dramatically raising rents, allowing more people to stay in their homes.. My Excessive Lobbying Tax will make it more costly for these firms to lobby against policies that protect renters.
 
But we can do more. I’ll stop federal dollars from going to predatory landlords and lenders with a long history of harassing tenants, forcing tenants to live in dangerous or indecent conditions, or redlining our communities. I’ve already committed to strict new requirements for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, limiting the situations in which the agencies can sell mortgages and imposing new requirements on Wall Street buyers to protect homeowners.
 
I’ll also direct the Federal Housing Administration to deny federal support to landlords that violate tenants’ rights. My FHA will develop rules that prohibit federal agencies from insuring, guaranteeing, or lending to landlords with a history of harassing tenants, violating housing codes, unjust evictions, violating fair housing law, or engaging in unconscionable rent increases. That means no federal support for landlords that violate tenants’ rights — like Jared Kushner’s family firm, which is under investigation for harassing tenants out of rent-stabilized homes.
 
I’ll go further and allow all suits for violations of the Fair Housing Act and Federal, state or local housing protections to reach to the private equity firm and its general partners. After the housing crisis, private equity firms gobbled up hundreds of thousands of Real Estate Owned (REO) properties and troubled mortgages from FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac. In the years since, private equity firms have expanded their portfolios in housing and have taken a particularly aggressive position in the market for manufactured home parksIn the midst of the financial crisis, private equity firms exploited legal loopholes and used shell companies to ensure tenants were unable to get justice when they’re wronged and removing all disincentive for abuse.
 
My housing plan would end the pipeline of foreclosed homes from Federal agencies to private equity firms, and My Wall Street plan allowed extended liability for actions at a private equity portfolio company to the private equity firm and its general partners in the case of a government enforcement action.
 
I’ll rein in payday lenders who take advantage of renters. Payday lenders cluster in low-income areas, like around government-subsidized housing, and target communities of color. I’ve called out the unscrupulous, exploitative practices for more than a decade. As President, I’ll direct the CFPB to issue a comprehensive package of regulations on payday lenders, including limiting the proximity of payday lenders near public housing. I’ll call for Congress to repeal the Dodd-Frank provision that prohibits the CFPB from capping interest rates, empowering the CFPB to effectively regulate these bad actors.
 
And I’ll take on “land contracts” agreements, predatory loans that are frequently targeted at communities of color. Land contracts are high-interest loans that are often marketed as a path to homeownership. Tenant-buyers make payments towards a lender over a long period of time, and the lenders that own the homes are only required to turn over legal title to the home after the renter has completely paid it off. But homes — often houses lost in the foreclosure crisis — can be in such bad condition they’re basically uninhabitable, and the contracts shift the costs of fixing them up away from banks and onto unsuspecting families.
 
Worse still, these contracts are built to fail: If tenants fall behind on these unregulated, high-interest loans, predatory lenders can seize the property — and keep would-be buyers’ money — so they make it hard for families to keep up with payments by inflating the prices, disguising debts, and hiding unfair terms in the fine print of their land contracts. Predatory lenders target communities of color for land contracts, including the same families displaced by rising rents. I’ll choose a CFPB Director committed to reigning in land contracts.
 
Next, I’ll require large corporate landlords to publicly disclose data. I’ll create a national public database of information about large corporate landlords, by requiring them to report key data to HUD. The database will include information like corporate landlords’ median rent, the number and percentage of tenants they evicted, building code violations, the most recent standard lease agreement used, and the identity of any individuals with an ownership interest of 25% or more, either directly or indirectly, in large landlords’ corporations, LLCs, or similar legal entities. And I’ll direct HUD to study the impact that these kinds of landlords have on local rental markets.

Read the plan here

Democratic Candidates for 2020: Klobuchar Plan for Affordable Housing, Revitalizing Neglected Neighborhoods

Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, in the race for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president, is proposing a plan to bridge the rural-urban divide, expand affordable housing opportunities and revitalize neglected neighborhoods © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Amy Klobuchar’s plan to address the need for affordable housing seeks to bridge the rural-urban divide, expand housing opportunities and revitalize neglected neighborhoods. This is a summary from the Klobuchar campaign:

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Senator Klobuchar is proposing a plan to bridge the rural-urban divide, expand affordable housing opportunities and revitalize neglected neighborhoods.

Stable and affordable housing is out of reach for too many American families. Both rural and urban areas struggle with a shortage of affordable rental housing, homelessness and neglected neighborhoods. Racial disparities and discrimination persist in housing and many families face significant obstacles to buying a home. As President, Senator Klobuchar will tackle these challenges to make a safe and affordable home a reality for more Americans.

Highlights of Senator Klobuchar’s Plan:

Expanding Access to Justice and Fighting Discrimination

  • Provide access to counsel. ​Senator Klobuchar will create a new federal grant program with the goal of eliminating the unmet need when it comes to​ ​providing access to counsel in civil cases involving basic human needs, which means providing counsel for people who are dealing with evictions, being denied access to health care and having wages unfairly taken.
  • Prohibit landlords from unfairly discriminating against renters. ​Senator Klobuchar will ban all landlords from discriminating against people based on their income, including housing vouchers or disability benefits. She will also protect renters by preventing the blacklisting of people who have been to court over eviction or discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or veterans status.
  • Combat segregation in housing.​ Senator Klobuchar will suspend the Trump Administration’s proposals to weaken fair housing rules. As previously announced, in her first 100 days as President Senator Klobuchar will suspend the Trump Administration’s attempts to weaken efforts to combat segregation in housing by modifying the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule.
  • Reinstate the Office of Fair Lending and Opportunity’s enforcement and oversight powers.​ ​The Trump Administration has significantly weakened the Office of Fair Lending and Opportunity,​ ​stripping the office of its ability to ensure fair and equitable access to credit. As President, Senator Klobuchar will restore all enforcement and oversight powers to the Office of Fair Lending and Opportunity to monitor fair lending practices and coordinate with the Department of Justice to prevent lending discrimination before it happens.

Addressing the Rural Housing Crisis

  • Increase affordable rental housing in rural communities. ​54 million​ Americans live in rural areas with a severe need for more affordable rental housing. Senator Klobuchar will strengthen rural rental assistance programs and significantly increase investments in the rural housing supply, which includes expanding affordable housing programs serving Native Americans.
  • Improve access to information about rural housing programs. ​To take advantage of federal support for new rural housing, developers must first know about the programs available to them. Senator Klobuchar will improve training for state, local and federal agencies so communities and developers can better access housing opportunities. Senator Klobuchar will also improve and expand programs that provide technical assistance to rural nonprofits to connect rural communities with resources to develop housing.
  • Encourage innovative strategies to attract private investment. ​Senator Klobuchar will use the loan purchasing power of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to ask lenders to create new ways to meet the mortgage credit needs for rural markets based on evidence from their existing portfolio data. Senator Klobuchar will also provide incentives for community financial development institutions to provide access to credit in rural communities using the expertise of local financial institutions. 

Increasing Access to Affordable Housing

  • Invest in Housing Choice Vouchers.​ The Housing Choice Voucher program helps provide the stable homes families need to succeed, but demand far exceeds the number of vouchers available. Senator Klobuchar will make a major investment to make vouchers available to all qualifying households with children.
  • Promote effective zoning rules. ​Outdated zoning rules can make it harder to build affordable housing in many areas. Some cities are beginning to update their zoning policies through initiatives like Minneapolis 2040 to increase affordable housing opportunities. Senator Klobuchar will prioritize areas that have updated their zoning rules when awarding federal housing and infrastructure grants.
  • Give renters access to emergency funds for rent. ​The path toward eviction can start with an unexpected emergency expense. As she has previously announced, Senator Klobuchar will work to create innovative, portable personal savings accounts called UP Accounts that can be used for retirement and emergencies — including non-routine expenses like rent payments in situations like a lapse in earnings, a car accident, or family leave. [This proposal is modeled after the ​Saving for the Future Act​, which was introduced by Senators Coons and Klobuchar.] Under her plan, employers will set aside at least 50 cents per hour worked, helping a worker build more than $600,000 in wealth over the course of a career.
  • Support housing for people with disabilities.​ Senator Klobuchar will strengthen housing programs that assist people with disabilities. She will also invest in the successful Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program.
  • Promote climate change mitigation and resilience.​ Residential buildings are a significant source of carbon emissions. Senator Klobuchar will ensure that all federal housing programs implement strong standards to reduce carbon emissions and she will invest in retrofitting so existing housing is more energy efficient. 

Providing Access to Opportunity

  • Encourage mobility for renters. ​An ​effective​ way to break the cycle of poverty is to move to a neighborhood that provides greater opportunity.​ ​Senator Klobuchar will expand the pilot for mobility housing vouchers that allows families to use their vouchers in higher opportunity neighborhoods. She will expand incentives to encourage relocation and work with regional and federal housing agencies to reduce obstacles that can make these relocations difficult.
  • Increase the supply of affordable housing in high opportunity neighborhoods. ​The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit is a critical tool for developing affordable rental housing.​ ​Senator Klobuchar will push to expand the current allocations to support the construction of additional units. She will also work to encourage construction in high opportunity neighborhoods.
  • Reduce homelessness. ​Over half a million Americans experience homelessness every night. Senator Klobuchar will make a major investment in homeless assistance grants that provide emergency and long-term housing and build on her work in the Senate increasing access to case management services like counseling and job training. This also means addressing the unique challenges of specific homeless populations including those living in rural areas, domestic violence victims, and the formerly incarcerated.
  • Help seniors age in place.​ By 2040, one in five Americans will be over 65, but the current supply of rental housing is not equipped for this Silver Surge. In the first 100 days of her Administration, Senator Klobuchar will reverse the Trump Administration’s proposed changes to federal housing subsidies that could triple rent for some households and would be particularly harmful for seniors. In addition, she will update regulations for reverse mortgages to make sure seniors have access to safe products that make it easier to stay in their homes, as well as expand support for affordable senior housing. She will direct affordable housing programs to allow retrofitting of rental housing and encourage a share of new rental housing to be built in a senior friendly way.

Increasing Access to Homeownership

  • Revitalize and build value in neglected neighborhoods.​ In some neighborhoods, neglected properties make investments to improve living conditions or build property value economically infeasible. Neighboring blighted and abandoned properties further reduce the possibility of investment, leading to downward spiral. Senator Klobuchar will advocate for a new federal tax credit, similar to the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, to encourage investment in family-owned homes in distressed neighborhoods.
  • Promote homeownership through down payment assistance and credit development. Saving for a downpayment and building a credit history are two of the largest obstacles new homebuyers face. Senator Klobuchar will build on programs that allow certain types of rental housing assistance to be used for home ownership expenses. She will also work to pass legislation that expands access to capital for down payments and makes it easier to build a credit history by allowing credit bureaus to use on-time payment data from cell phone bills, utilities, and rent in calculating credit scores.
  • Protect the Community Reinvestment Act. ​During the first 100 days of her presidency, Senator Klobuchar will direct financial regulators to strengthen C​ommunity Reinvestment Act​ protections, develop policies to encourage financial institutions to make loans and investment in local communities, especially communities in need, and conduct greater outreach to assess the true credit needs of certain areas.
  • Improve education for homebuyers. Buying a home can be confusing, especially for first-time homebuyers. Senator Klobuchar will strengthen federal homebuyer education programs including targeted programs for communities with low levels of homeownership.

To pay for these policies, Senator Klobuchar will raise the capital gains rate to the income tax rate for households making over $400,000, and as announced in her infrastructure plan, which included plans for housing, raising the corporate tax rate to 25%.