Things That Matter

Julián Castro Is Promising To Confront The Growing Housing Crisis In The US With An Ambitious Housing Plan

Presidential hopeful Julián Castro has just unveiled a plan that will address housing discrimination, homelessness and increase homeownership. The plan, part of his “People First” policy, is an area that Castro is quite familiar with as he served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under President Obama. He is now using some of that experience to push forward with a plan to tackle increasingly difficult housing issues in the U.S.

Castro wants to expand housing assistance programs for the poor and give renters a tax credit.

Credit: @NBCLatino/Twitter

In unveiling the first installment of his three-part housing plan, Castro voiced the concerns that many renters and potential home buyers are feeling across the country. As home and rent prices have risen to historic numbers, many are a bad bounce or missed paycheck from living on the streets.

His housing proposal focuses on expanding federally funded vouchers to help at-risk Americans pay their rent, creating a refundable tax credit for Americans whose rent exceeds 30 percent of their income and bolster the supply of affordable housing units.

“People are experiencing an affordable housing crisis, whether they live in a red or blue community, whether they are white or black. This rental affordability touches the lives of so many,” Castro said.

Castro’s plan includes improving Section 8, a housing assistance program, which subsidizes the housing of almost 5.3 million Americans in low-income households. The program is currently only helping 25 percent of eligible families. Castro wants to expand that number and transform the program to “a fully-funded entitlement program” similar to food stamps or Social Security.

A person making the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hour) is unable to afford a two-bedroom rental in any state. Castro wants to change this.

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Housing affordability is an issue that Castro has heard time and time again on the campaign trail. He wants to change this by increasing the number of affordable housing units. This will include putting money towards the construction of additional public housing and through the expansion of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit.

Another issue he wants to address is reducing America’s homelessness epidemic. Castro says he will create new government housing targets, increase assistance grants and invest in a variety of programs designed to help individuals who are homeless or at risk. His plan would also decriminalize homelessness and put an end to laws that discriminate against those without homes.

“Those experiencing homelessness are our most vulnerable citizens. They are single adults, veterans, families with young children, and kids on their own,” Castro said. “I know that when the public sector invests effort and money into ending homelessness — as we did during the Obama administration — we make a difference.”

According to HUD’s 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report, there were about 553,000 people experiencing homelessness every night in 2018. Castro predicts that his new initiative would end homelessness for veterans and children by the end of 2024 and put a stop to chronic homelessness by the end of 2028.

Castro has also included plans for environmentally sustainable housing.

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Castro’s second part of his plan describes investing in “climate-driven” initiatives as part of an effort to achieve net-zero global greenhouse emissions by 2050 and “meet the promise of the Green New Deal.” The Green New Deal, which was introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), is a plan that calls to make the U.S. carbon neutral by 2030.

Castro’s environmental plan would establish a $200 billion Green Infrastructure Fund that would fund local and national natural energy projects. This includes increasing and steadily improving public transportation, make buildings more energy efficient, and add more public electric vehicle charging stations.

While many support the plan or ones similar to Castro’s, it begs the question of how will this all be paid for?

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According to his campaign, Castro’s housing initiatives would cost at least $970 billion over the span of 10 years, which includes $410 billion to expand the rent voucher program. While Castro’s plans for solving the U.S. housing crisis are definitely lofty, research and numbers show that the situation is only getting worse.

“I’m committed to working toward prosperity for every single American no matter their background,” Castro told NBC News. “The fact is in our nation’s history, poverty and racism have been so intertwined that we need to address both at the same time.”

READ: Julian Castro Is Running For President On A Platform Of Giving A Pathway To Citizenship For 11 Million People

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Here Are Some Of The Women Of Color Being Considered For VP By Biden Campaign

Things That Matter

Here Are Some Of The Women Of Color Being Considered For VP By Biden Campaign

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Despite everything happening, the U.S. is still in an election year and former Vice President Joe Biden is on the search for a running mate. So far, most of his list are women of color and political pundits think it is the best move.

Senator Tammy Duckworth

Sen. Duckworth is currently a senator representing Illinois. The Thai-American woman served in the Army following in the steps of her ancestors who have fought in every major conflict since the American Revolution. Sen. Duckworth received a purple heart while on a tour of duty in Iraq as a helicopter pilot for the U.S. Army after she lost both legs in an attack. Duckworth then went into politics being elected to the House of Representatives representing Illinois’s 8th Congressional District from 2013 to 2017. In 2017, Duckworth was elected to the Senate.

Representative Val Demings

Rep. Demings currently represents the 10th Congressional District of Florida. She took office in January 2017 and has held the seat since. Before serving in the House of Representatives, Rep. Demings was a police officer in Florida. She even served as Chief of the Orlando Police Department from 2007 to 2011. Some have considered her law enforcement background a positive but Black Lives Matter protesters have attacked her record claiming that Rep. Demings didn’t do enough to fix policing issues in Orlando during her tenure as chief.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms

Mayor Bottoms has risen to national fame since the COVID-19 and George Floyd protests in Atlanta caught the nation’s attention. Mayor Bottoms has been mayor of Atlanta since 2018. Before being the 60th Mayor of Atlanta, Mayor Bottoms was a member of the Atlanta City Council for 8 years. In 2019, Mayor Bottoms spoke out against President Trump’s xenophobic actions and declared Atlanta a welcoming city to refugees and migrants seeking shelter.

Former United States National Security Advisor Susan Rice

Rice served for 3 1/2 years as President Barack Obama’s National Security Adviser during his second term. Prior to that duty, Rice was appointed by President Obama to serve as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in 2008. During her time in the U.N., Rice accomplished a lot, including raising LGBTQ and women’s issues to a global priority and led the Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran and North Korea in response to their nuclear programs.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham

Governor Lujan Grisham, who can trace her ancestry in New Mexican back 12 generations, has been a very popular politician from the Land of Enchantment. Gov. Lujan Grisham won her 2012 and 2014 elections to the House of Representatives 59 percent to 41 percent each. In 2016, she won election to Congress 65.1 percent to 34.9 percent. While in Congress, the congresswoman served as the chairwoman for the Congression Hispanic Caucus before resigning to take office as New Mexico’s governor.

READ: During A Livestream Event, It Definitely Sounds (And Looks) Like Joe Biden Let Out A Giant Fart

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The Supreme Court Ruled In Favor Of Allowing States To Punish Electoral College

Entertainment

The Supreme Court Ruled In Favor Of Allowing States To Punish Electoral College

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News straight from the Supreme Court might just mean a more fair election this 2020. According to reports, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing states to reprimand members of the Electoral College should they break a pledge to vote for their state’s popular vote winner for presidential elections. The decision comes heavily on the heels of the looming election season.

The decision was sparked after 10 of the 538 presidential electors made their own decisions in 2016 and voted for candidates other than the one they’d pledged to vote for.

Up until Monday, only 32 out of the 50 states as well as the District of Columbia had laws that discouraged “faithless electors.” At that time, none of the states had ever actually reprimanded or removed an elector based on their vote. The Supreme Court decision came with a 9-0 count.

“Today, we consider whether a State may also penalize an elector for breaking his pledge and voting for someone other than the presidential candidate who won his State’s popular vote. We hold that a State may do so,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote.”The Constitution’s text and the Nation’s history both support allowing a State to enforce an elector’s pledge to support his party’s nominee — and the state voters’ choice — for President.”

In 2016, three presidential electors in Washington state voted for Colin Powell over the popular votes push for Hillary Clinton. Another voted for anti-Keystone XL pipeline activist Faith Spotted Eagle. At the time, Washington’s Supreme Court upheld a $1,000 fine.

In Colorado, during the 2016 election, Micheal Baca attempted to vote for John Kasich instead of Clinton but his vote was rejected. He was removed and replaced and referred for a potential perjury prosecution. No charges were filed, however. According to CNN, Baca “filed suit, and ultimately won when the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals held that while the state does have the power to appoint electors, that does not extend to the power to remove them.”

Oddly, Frodo Baggins, the beloved hobit from the Lord of The Rings trilogy became a part of the court’s historical record during oral arguments.

According to reports, Justice Clarence Thomas used Baggins as an example “The elector who had promised to vote for the winning candidate could suddenly say, ‘You know, I’m going to vote for Frodo Baggins. I really like Frodo Baggins.’ And you’re saying, under your system, you can’t do anything about that,” Thomas asked.

During the case, Justice Kagan went through the history of the Electoral College and spoke about the presidential election of 1796. The election was the first contested presidential election in the United States and saw John Adams come in first and Thomas Jefferson second. “That meant the leaders of the era’s two warring political parties—the Federalists and the Republicans—became President and Vice President respectively. (one might think of this as fodder of the new season of Veep),” Kagan wrote.

Kagan also referenced Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway musical “Hamilton” nothing that “Alexander Hamilton secured his place on the Broadway stage—but possibly in the cemetery too—by lobbying Federalists in the House to tip the election to Jefferson, whom he loathed but viewed as less of an existential threat to the republic,” she wrote. Justice Thomas agreed with Kagan writing “nothing in the Constitution prevents States from requiring Presidential electors to vote for the candidate chosen by the people.”

Here’s hoping this new change in the Supreme Court ruling ensures a better election outcome.

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