As part of a broader plan intended to make housing more affordable, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) on Wednesday proposed a tax credit that would effectively cap the rent most Americans pay at 30 percent of their income — a move his presidential campaign said would help 57 million people.
The release of Booker’s proposals comes amid plans from several Democratic candidates on a wide array of subjects ahead of the party’s first debate later this month. Though Booker has traveled extensively to early nominating states, he has yet to gain traction in polls among the crowded field of Democrats.
With the release of his proposals Wednesday, Booker sought to highlight his tenure as mayor of Newark, during which his administration made considerable investments in the struggling city’s housing stock.
“Access to safe, affordable housing is a central theme in my life and my career in politics,” Booker, who served as mayor from 2006 to 2013, said in a statement. “Housing is a basic need and a basic right. And Americans shouldn’t have to face insurmountable financial challenges to put a roof over their heads.
Under Booker’s plan, anyone paying more than 30 percent of their before-tax income would be eligible for a tax credit, which would cover the difference between 30 percent of their income and the fair-market rent in their neighborhood.
Booker’s campaign pointed to Columbia University research suggesting the median credit for a family benefiting from such a proposal would be $4,800.
Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), another Democratic hopeful, has proposed a similar measure. Other Democrats, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), have also produced plans on housing.
Booker’s plan also calls for more funding for rural housing, zoning reforms that he says would spur more affordable housing, and greater legal protections for those facing eviction. It also includes a previously announced “baby bonds” proposal that would give every child a $1,000 bonded savings account at birth. That proposal is aimed at spurring significant savings to afford a down payment on a home.
Booker’s campaign said his plan would be fully paid for by reversing changes to the estate tax under President Trump and raising several other taxes that were cut by the Republican tax law passed in 2017.