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.
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.
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.
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?
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.”