+ What strategies should the next president pursue to make housing more affordable?
During our “You Be the Moderator” project, in which Post readers submitted questions they would like to see candidates answer during a debate, one reader asked: “Cities such as New York and San Francisco have many of the best opportunities for finding high-paying jobs. Those same cities also have skyrocketing housing prices. Keeping in mind that many of the laws that determine housing prices, such as zoning laws or rent control, are enacted at the local level, what will you do to help make housing in these cities more affordable?”
Of all the policy issues that have been ignored in the current election cycle, housing may be one of the most surprising. The United States has simultaneously experienced a decline in homeownership and a sharp rise in rent prices over the past decade. This has put a squeeze on middle- and low-income people searching for affordable housing, especially in cities.
Hillary Clinton has proposed a $25 billion housing program to deal with the problem, and while Donald Trump hasn’t outlined a plan to address housing, he has expressed frustration over falling homeownership.
Is expanding subsidies and federal money the right approach to address unaffordable housing? What role should the next administration play in tackling local and state laws that restrict housing development and raise prices?
Erika C. Poethig is an institute fellow and director of urban policy initiatives at the Urban Institute. Most recently, she was acting assistant secretary for the Office of Policy Development and Research at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Housing for America’s lowest-income families rarely ever makes the front page and has been noticeably absent from both candidates’ stump speeches. Yet 81 percent of respondents in a recent MacArthur Foundation poll said housing affordability is a problem in America, and 63 percent said presidential candidates aren’t paying enough attention to the issue. Housing is both a cost-saving safety net and a platform for individuals and families to improve their health, education and economic outcomes. When people cannot afford housing, it undermines families’ ability to reach the next rung on the economic ladder and prevents older adults from aging safely and securely.