Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Blogger Candidate Forum: What Fair Housing May Look Like housing/495749/?utm_source=nl_link2_081516

Senator Tim Kaine at a campaign rally in Philadelphia
Hello Everyone:

It is time for the weekly installment of Blogger Candidate Forum.  This week we are continuing are discussion on the issue of fair housing.  Last week we considered the question why fair housing is not a bold faced issue.  Today we are going to take a look how Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) has made fair housing an issue.  Kriston Capps writes in his CityLab article, "Tim Kaine's Vision for the Future of Fair Housing,"

As voters have come to learn, Kaine built his career as a lawyer in Richmond by pursuing fair-housing cases.  As the former mayor of Richmond and former governor of Virginia, Kaine has experience examining the issues of fair and affordable housing from a variety of policy perches.

Already on the campaign trail, the Gentleman from Virginia has drawn a sharp distinction between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump (R-NY) on this important subject.  While Americans have indicated that housing is as an important priority as immigration or healthcare, the subject has not had a lot of traction on the campaign trail so.  However, the Gentleman from Virginia's unique qualifications on housing will ensure that fair housing will be front and center.

"40 Years of Fair Housing in Virginia"

In an editorial published on CNN August 12, 2016, the Gentleman from Virginia writes,

A house is more than just a place to sleep.  It's part of the foundation on which a family built a life...Where you live determines the jobs you can find, the schools your children can attend, the air the you breathe, and the opportunities you have.  And when you are blocked from living where you want, it to the core of who are.  ( Date access Aug 24, 2016)

Senator Kaine's editorial lays out the ways a possible Clinton administration would strive to make housing more fair and affordable.  The following is an outline of possible policy initiative and what Americans can look forward to should Madame Secretary win the election.

"Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program"
Low Income Housing Tax Credits

Mr. Capps reports, "The U.S, spends about $6 billion annually on LIHTCs, an indirect form of housing assistance."  This is a first line item on the Gentleman from Virginia's housing which we can infer that a potential Clinton believes that LIHTCs are the right tool for the job.  Mr. Capps continues, "The use of LIHTC has steadily since the 1990s."  Ironically, tax credit subsidized has sometimes resulted in more segregated neighborhoods.

Rental assistance

Senator Kaine's editorial does not elaborate on how a potential Clinton Administration was revive federal housing assistance.  According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (, "growth in rental assistance has slowed dramatically.  If present trends continue, federal housing-assistance spend would reach its lowest point in 40 years."  Of course this is predicated on the Democrats winning control of the Senate (a distinct possibility), given that it would take divine intervention in Congress to get another budget passed.  Restoring housing choice-vouchers to pre-sequester levels would be the next step.

Quoting Senator Kaine, Mr. Capps writes "...that the Democrats will help families choose from a wide range of neighborhoods to live in"-an acknowledgment of fair housing and a campaign pledge that would mean implementing the Affordably Furthering Fair Housing standards established by the Department Housing and Urban Development under the current administration.

Poughkeepsie Housing Authority
Public housing authorities

Senator Kaine is more vague in his explanation of how a potential Clinton administration would build more public housing.  Senator Kaine, Blogger has a suggestion, consider adaptive re-use projects.  There are under used buildings, around the country, that are ripe for rehabilitation and are eagerly await you.  He writes,

We'll provide more resources to public-housing authorities, and pair these investments with broader economic development efforts. (

The cost for new public housing is estimated at $46 billion.  This break downs into a capital backlog for America's 1.1 million public housing units, almost all of which were built before 1985(this figure is soaring.  In 2010 it climbed to $26 billion; the costs grow on average of $3.4 billion annually).

Kriston Capps writes, "Undoing the damage done by austerity will be the first order of business for a Clinton administration looking to boost spending on housing."  However, scaling back the Budget Control is not enough.  Mr. Capps adds, "Federal housing spending, in terms of direct  rental assistance and public-housing maintenance, has been declining for decades."

First time home buyers
First-time home-buyers

Madame Secretary has pledged to provide $10,000 in down payment assistance for families wanting to buy their first home, an idea that would build on the popularity of the first-time homebuyer tax credit ( of 2008-2010.  Of all the housing initiative detailed by the Gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Capps predicts, "this one's bound to be the most popular, since Americans of all income levels would eligible to receive it (unless I misread him, the program is not means tested)."

The chief benefit of this initiative is that this one-time down payment assistance could help launch millions of new households.  Here is an interesting statistic, "Today, more than 50 percent of renters could afford mortgages, but still can't afford to buy a home."  Why is this the case? One of the reasons for this situation is that said renters lack the savings, particularly cities with climbing housing costs.

Expanding this program to all first-time home-buyers, regardless of incomes, translates into an enormous subsidy for middle- and upper-class in the same manner as the mortgage-interest tax deduction-a $195 billion subsidy for wealthier Americans,  Mr. Capps suggests, "A progressive administration should look at ways to dial back regressive subsidies, not expand them."

Fair Housing infographic
Fair-Housing Laws

This is real dividing line between the Clinton-Kaine and Trump-Pence campaigns.  The Blue Team standard bearers spent their early careers fighting discrimination, Mr. Trump made his billions on discrimination.  Quoting Senator Tim Kaine's editorial.

Around this same time, if a woman like Lorraine attempted to rent an apartment from Trump's company, federal investigators were told that employees would have added a piece of paper to her rental application with the letter "C" on it.  As the Department of Justice would later discover, "C" stood for "Colored."

The U.S. government brought a housing discrimination suit challenging this racist and discriminatory practice, which took place across 39 Trump properties.

The Fair Housing Act is an example, cited by Senator Tim Kaine, "...of what government can and should do in people's lives."  While some of a possible Clinton administration's plans for fulfilling their campaign promises have yet to be revealed, they do acknowledge that when it comes to race, we are far from enlightened as we think we are.

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