White House hopeful Julián Castro on Monday released a portion of his latest “People First” policy proposal focused on affordable housing and homelessness.
The “People First Housing” plan will be released in three segments, starting on Monday.
“Housing is a human right. But for too many people, affordable, safe, and healthy housing is out of reach—forcing them to pay 40, 50, or even 60 percent of their income in rent, and forcing others on the streets,” Castro, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary under former President Obama, said in a statement.
“I understand the challenges that Americans face in housing—from rising rents, to gentrification, to housing discrimination, to homelessness. We need a president who will match the urgency of this issue with concrete, bold plans. That’s why I’m proud to release my People First Housing plan to ensure every American can access safe, affordable housing for them and their families.”
Castro, who has struggled to gain any traction in early primary polling, proposes a four-pronged approach to strengthen affordable housing by expanding the housing choice voucher program, creating a renters’ tax credit for those not eligible for vouchers, investing in new affordable housing units and reforming local zonings which restrict efficient buildings.
Many of these would expand on the National Housing Trust Fund, which provided $173 million in grants to create affordable housing, that Castro established while leading HUD.
Castro says he would reduce America’s homelessness epidemic by setting new government housing targets, increasing assistance grants, establishing consistent government homelessness definitions and investing in a wide variety of programs designed to help individuals who are homeless or housing insecure.
The plan would also decriminalize homelessness and end laws that discriminate against those without homes.
The housing initiative ties in Castro’s other platform positions, including expanding Pell Grants and expanding Medicare, to address housing issues.
Homelessness has been a steadily growing issue for years. According to HUD’s most recent Annual Homeless Assessment Report, each night of 2018 roughly 553,000 people were experiencing homelessness.
Homeownership is often cited as a key component to wealth-building for American families.
Data shows that obstacles, both economic and social, have especially left minorities lagging behind in homeownership.
A recent report by the Urban Institute shows that black homeownership has declined 5 percent since 2011, compared to a 1 percent decline for white families.
The same report showed an increase in Hispanic homeownership during that period, though it came at a time when Hispanic families were digging out after being particularly affected by the Great Recession, with Latino households losing 66 percent of their overall wealth from 2005-2009, according to the Pew Research Center.
Castro’s policy platforms tackling issues including immigration, policing and the cost of college have so far not resulted in an uptick in polling, with the former San Antonio mayor frequently polling near 1 or 2 percent.