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Warren’s Housing Plan Excites Bay Area Activists

July 8, 2019

By Diego Aguilar-Canabal : thebaycitybeacon – excerpt

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has over twenty detailed plans to address nearly everything from college debt to paid family leave. In the Bay Area, her plan to tackle soaring housing costs has drawn particular enthusiasm from local activists. The erstwhile presidential candidate has surged in the polls lately, leapfrogging over progressive darling Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to lately polling second behind former Vice President Joe Biden. While seldom addressed directly on the campaign trail, Warren’s one-two punch on housing—tackling deeply entrenched segregation and monopoly power fueling high prices, while seeking to redistribute wealth to lift working households out of poverty—has proved key to her popularity among some Democratic circles in the Bay Area.

Warren’s Housing and Economic Mobility Act pairs increased subsidies for low-income housing and down payment assistance with incentives to roll back exclusionary zoning regulations at the state and local level, a key YIMBY policy goal. It’s a rallying cry that has become so popular, even congressional Republicans and the Trump administration are now using similar language, albeit with markedly different goals.…

Castro’s plan goes further than Warren’s in many ways, proposing to make Section 8 rent vouchers a mandatory entitlement program, like Social Security, and establishing a Presidential Commission on Zoning Reform to study density restrictions across the country…

Not one to be outdone, President Trump signed an executive order on June 25 establishing a White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing, to be chaired by U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson….

This dynamic is only compounded by the so-called YIMBY Act, introduced by U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-IN), which would tie existing Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding to reviews of local land use policies….

“All Young is trying to do here is throw gasoline on the NIMBY-YIMBY flames coming out of San Francisco to distract from the myriad ways Republicans are picking working people’s pockets.”…

Initially, fellow candidate Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) had earlier proposed a more problematic incentive, withholding funds from Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) until cities reform their zoning regulations….

But Kraemer reserved praise for Warren’s efforts toward structural reform in contrast to presidential competitor U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), the former San Francisco District Attorney whose Rent Relief Act proposes an annual tax credit for renters that “does not address the root causes of soaring rents,” and, to Kraemer’s grave concern, may perversely incentivize landlords to raise rents further…

Most large states have pretty diverse housing markets across their cities, so trying to set statewide rent changes is likely to screw up at least some local housing markets,”…(more)

This article covers some analysis of the national housing policy options being suggested by candidates

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