White House hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Wednesday released a $2.5 trillion plan to guarantee housing for every American.
Sanders said the plan would “guarantee every American — regardless of income — a fundamental right to a safe, decent, accessible, and affordable home” and would be paid for by a wealth tax on the top one-tenth of 1 percent of income earners.
“There is virtually no place in America where a full-time minimum wage worker can afford a decent two bedroom apartment. At a time when half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck, this is unacceptable,” he said. “For too long the federal government has ignored the extraordinary housing crisis in our country. That will end when I am president.”
Sanders’s plan seeks to invest $1.48 trillion over 10 years in the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund to build and maintain 7.4 million “quality, affordable and accessible housing units” that he says will eliminate the gap in affordable housing for the lowest-income renters. It would also invest another $400 billion to build 2 million mixed-income social housing units.
He also intends to use the plan to end homelessness by prioritizing 25,000 National Affordable Housing Trust Fund units to house the homeless in his first year in office and provide $500 million to state and local governments to help connect the homeless to case management and social services.
The democratic socialist lambasted “corrupt real estate developers” for jacking up rent prices and President Trump for cutting federal housing programs. He says he would create an office within the Department of Housing and Urban Development to strengthen rent control and tenant protections and make data on evictions and rent increases available to the public.
Sanders’s campaign, much like his 2016 bid, has made a benchmark issue of income and advantage disparities between upper-class and working-class Americans. The Vermont Independent first introduced legislation in 2001 to create the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which is now funded through a small percentage of revenues from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored housing agencies.
Sanders has consistently polled in the top tier of national and statewide surveys, though he is facing a stiff challenge from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for the crowded primary field’s progressive mantle.