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.

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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

Here’s What The Candidates Had To Say About The Billionaires And Their Responsibilities To Pay Taxes

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Here’s What The Candidates Had To Say About The Billionaires And Their Responsibilities To Pay Taxes

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Democrats have officially wrapped their third round of Democratic debates. Last night, 12 candidates for the Democratic nomination went head to head on the debate stage in Ohio. The biggest topics of the night were President Trump’s sudden withdrawal of troops in Syria leaving the Kurds vulnerable to Turkey’s attacks and what to do with billionaires. There were some clear winners and losers from the debate. Here is your quick breakdown from the candidates trying to be the Democratic nominee for president.

Elizabeth Warren delivered a powerful message on the inequalities of the abortion debate.

“I think there are a number of options. I think as Mayor Buttigieg said, there are many different ways that people are talking about different options and I think we may have to talk about them,” Sen. Warren said when asked if she’d add justices to the Supreme Court to protect reproductive rights. “But, on Roe v. Wade, can we just pause for a minute here. I lived in an America where abortion was illegal and rich women still got abortions because they could travel. They could go to places where it was legal. What we’re talking about now, is that the people who are denied access to abortion are the poor, are the young, are 14-year-olds who were molested by a family member. We now have support across this country. Three out of 4 Americans believe in the rule of Roe v. Wade. When you’ve got three out of four Americans supporting it, we should be able to get that passed through Congress. We should not leave this up to the Supreme Court. We should do it through democracy because we can.”

The U.S. has seen a series of laws passed on the state level aiming to limit access to abortion. The laws have attempted to shutter Planned Parenthood clinics, which offer many more services than abortions, and Alabama’s law sought to put physicians in prison for 99 years for performing abortions. Louisiana has a law that is being heard by the Supreme Court this session that could force all but one doctor in the state to stop performing abortions.

Julián Castro spoke out about increasing police brutality and deaths at the hands of law enforcement.

“I grew up in neighborhoods where it wasn’t uncommon to hear gunshots at night,” former HUD Secretary Castro said when asked about preventing handgun homicides. “I can remember ducking into the backseat of a car when I was a freshman in high school across the street from my school, my public school because folks were shooting at each other.”

Castro continued by speaking about a topic that has been frequently discussed among the candidates, government buybacks of guns. Castro pointed out that he doesn’t like the idea of a mandatory buyback program since some people have not been able to define it. Furthermore, Castro states that if authorities are not going door-to-door then it isn’t going to be effective.

According to a Pew Research Center study conducted using data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 39,773 people died from gun-related incidents in the U.S. in 2017. The deaths came from suicides, murder, law enforcement, accidents, and undetermined circumstances.

Castro also made a point to name the latest victim of deadly police violence.

Atatiana Jefferson was home in Fort Worth, Texas with her nephew playing video games when neighbors called the police to check up on Jefferson. The officer who killed Jefferson, Aaron Y. Dean, resigned before he could be fired, according to The New York Times and has been charged with murder in the death. It is also reported that there have been six police-involved killings in the Fort Worth area this year.

Beto O’Rourke doubled down on his plan to create a mandatory buyback program of assault rifles.

If someone does not turn in an AR-15 or an AK-47, one of these weapons of war, or brings it out in public and brandishes it in an attempt to intimidate, which we saw when we were at Kent State [University] recently, then that weapon will be taken from them,” former Congressman O’Rourke told the audience when asked about finding the weapons and taking them away. “If they persist, there will be other consequences from law enforcement. But the expectation is that Americans will follow the law.”

Bernie Sanders, fresh from a health scare, let the billionaires have it.

“When you have a half-million Americans sleeping out on the streets today; when you have 87 million people uninsured or under-insured; when you have hundreds of thousands of kids who cannot afford to go to college and millions struggling with the oppressive burden of student debt,” Sanders said. “Then you also have three people owning more wealth than the bottom half of American society, that is a moral and economic outrage and that truth is we cannot afford to continue this level of income and wealth inequality and we cannot afford a billionaire class whose greed and corruption has been at war for 45 years.”

The night was filled with other candidates bringing up issues of the opiate crisis, Russian meddling in American democracy, the need to bring dignity back to jobs, and Biden was confronted about the Ukrainian scandal his son is involved in.

READ: From Gun Reform To Immigration, Here Are The Highlights Of Last Night’s #DemDebate

Trans Activists Of Color Protested At The CNN/HRC Equality Town Hall And Audience Members Applauded

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Trans Activists Of Color Protested At The CNN/HRC Equality Town Hall And Audience Members Applauded

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CNN and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) hosted a historic town hall last night focusing on issues impacting the LGBTQ+ community. The moderators and presidential candidates tackled topics and hard-hitting issues that have severely impacted the lives of millions of LGBTQ+ Americans. The town hall happened as the Supreme Court is deciding if LGBTQ+ people are deserving of the same discrimination protections as all Americans. Here’s what happened last night.

Texas politician Julián Castro made it clear that religion will not be an excuse for LGBTQ+ discrimination in his administration.

There have numerous attempts by local and state governments to legalize religious discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community. The bills, often labeled as Religious Freedom bills, have been proposed in North Carolina and Indiana and failed. North Carolina wanted to legislate what bathroom people had to use and Indiana wanted to give religious organizations and business owners the license to outright discriminate against people based on their faith.

“If I’m elected president, the first order of business on January 20, 2021, will be to have a catalog with all of the different executive actions that this president, this administration, has taken, including exemptions that they’ve created or rolled back that has allowed people to discriminate against the LGBTQ, using as the reason their religion, their excuse their religion,” Castro told an audience member who asked how he will stop religious organizations from using their faith to dictate discriminatory laws. “I will go back to what we did in the Obama administration and then take it to the next level to protect the LGBTQ community. I don’t believe that anybody should be bale to discriminate against you because you are a member of the LGBTQ community. I don’t believe that folks should be getting funding if they’re doing that. I don’t believe that in the healthcare context, the housing context, the employment context that people should be able to do that. I support the Equality Act and will work to pass that. When I was Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, we did the transgender rule, which as I mentioned, expanded the equal access rule so that transgender individuals can find shelter in a manner that they are comfortable with and in accordance to their preference and that’s what I would do as president.”

Castro’s performance during the LGBTQ+ town hall has received praise from LGBTQ+ people.

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Castro was able to speak about the issues impacting the LGBTQ+ community with an understanding that proves he isn’t going off talking points.

His conversation about faith and the license to discriminate showed his understanding of religion and LGBTQ+ people of faith.

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Castro wants to keep religion from attacking the very LGBTQ+ people of faith who depend on it. For many religious LGBTQ+ people, seeing religious leaders claim that their faith doesn’t accept them is a harsh reality.

Trans women of color let their voices be heard in a town hall that largely ignored them.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg was interrupted when he started his time on the stage. Trans activist Bamby Salcedo and other trans women of color stormed the venue holding trans flag that read “We Are Dying.” The women chanted “We are dying” and “Do something.” Some audience members joined the women in their protest however others jumped up to take the flag away and end the protest.

Anderson Cooper, who was moderating for Buttigieg, spoke up for the women as they were escorted out telling the audience, “Let me just point out, there is a long and proud tradition in history in the gay, lesbian and transgender community of protest and we applaud them for their protest.”

Cooper continued saying, “And they are absolutely right to be angry and upset at the lack of attention, particularly in the media, of the lives of transgender [people].”

Another trans activist, Blossom C Brown, also took on the moderators about the lack of Black trans voices during the town hall.

A lot of the conversation during the town hall focused on issues impacting gay men, trans women, and bisexual people. Many are calling out the town hall for ignoring trans people of color, lesbians, and non-binary people when it comes to health, housing, identity expression, and other issues impacting these communities specifically.

Ashlee Marie Preston, the only trans Black woman in the program, was taken out of the program by CNN so she publicly boycotted the event.

Credit: @AshleeMPreston / Twitter

There was a pretty glaring lack of trans women and men of color during the hours of discussion about LGBTQ+ issues. It is a common complaint within the community as trans women of color have long been ignored and silenced within the LGBTQ+ Rights movement.

READ: After Almost Two Years, Trans Activist Alejandra Barrera Has Been Released From ICE Custody