The Housing Crisis: Everyone deserves a home

I believe housing is a human right. Rent control is one way to protect that right. But we can do a lot more.

Affordable housing block grants have dried up under Pelosi’s watch. Restored, they’ll make room for hard-working people where there are now only luxury developments.

Healthcare bills are a major cause of homelessness, Medicare for All will go a long way towards preventing sick people from losing their homes. The Green New Deal creates opportunities for the jobless who might also go homeless.

Our states pay hundreds of millions of dollars in fees to predatory banks each year to manage our tax money. The creation of public banks would free up funds for housing, loans, education and health care for our citizens struggling in this rigged economy. 

Local housing

San Francisco’s housing crisis is tied to federal spending cuts. So to fix it, we need a federal solution. Let me explain.

Back in the 1970s, our tax dollars were invested in block grants to HUD. These grants gave developers an incentive to bake affordable housing right into their plans. 

But under Nancy Pelosi and other corporate Democrats, as well as Republicans, the budget for these grants fell from $13 billion (adjusted for inflation) to barely $3 billion—and Trump wants them cancelled completely.

Instead, we need to not only restore block grants, but expand them. 

I also support the development of local and state public banks, which will be able to provide an effective form of competitive public financing for affordable housing projects.    

Rent control & Eviction

Without rent control, most San Franciscans would be evicted sooner or later. Weak rent control is a recipe for homelessness. Right now this is a local issue, so Congress can’t fix it.

I want to change that. 

In 2018, the City gave all San Franciscans facing eviction the right to representation. I propose extending that right to all Americans, with a federal grant program that gives states the resources they need.

I also recognize even federal rent control won’t fix everything, which is one reason I also support Medicare for All. Spiraling healthcare costs are now the leading cause of homelessness. Plus, Medicare for All would cover mental illness, which is both a cause and effect of homelessness. 

I also support Senator Bernie Sanders’ federal housing plan, and the Green New Deal for Public Housing that he, Rep. Alexadria Ocasio-Cortez, and Rep. Ilhan Omar recently introduced.

Homes for the middle class

To make middle-class homes sustainably affordable, I propose the following, detailed earlier in this article.

  • Federal reinvestment in block grants to HUD, once substantial but now withered under Pelosi, so states can incentivize developers to include affordable units in their projects
  • Federalization of civil representation for those facing eviction, a program that already exists on a local level here in San Francisco
  • Medicare for All, which eliminates having to choose between mortgage and healthcare payments by making healthcare free at the point of service—and which also includes care for the mental illness, which is often both a cause and effect of homelessness
  • Decent-paying jobs programs, such as that included in the Green New Deal

Affordable housing for low-income communities

I favor establishing a federal right to housing, and a new era of social housing owned by the federal government and accountable to residents. That will require repealing the Faircloth amendment, and also passing the Green New Deal for Public Housing.

Community land trusts

I support community ownership and public ownership for new affordable housing development and for the maintenance and rehabilitation of existing homes. Community ownership of land keeps money within the local economy instead of siphoning it out to wealthy real estate investment funds and developers. These trusts align the incentives of people who live in the community with those who maintain and improve the buildings within that community.