Bernie 2020

September 14, 2019

NEWS: Sanders Previews National Housing Plan

LAS VEGAS, NV – During a speech in Las Vegas, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Saturday will preview his national housing plan.

The full plan will be released in the coming weeks. It will outline that in a Sanders administration every American will have a fundamental right to safe, decent and affordable housing.

The speech can be streamed live here at 4ET/1PT.

Below are Sanders’ remarks as prepared, embargoed until delivery:

I don’t have to tell anyone here today that we have an affordable housing crisis in Nevada, Vermont and all over this country that must be addressed. This in fact is a national emergency.

It is unacceptable to me that over 18 million families in America today are paying more than 50 percent of their limited incomes on housing.

How can working people pay for food, transportation, health care, prescription drugs, education and childcare when over half of their income is going to pay the rent or the mortgage?

It is unacceptable to me that there is virtually no place in America where a full-time minimum wage worker can afford a decent two bedroom apartment, at a time when half of our people are living pay check to pay check.

It is unacceptable to me that in America tonight, over half a million Americans, including over 7,500 right here in Nevada, will be sleeping out on the streets or in homeless shelters because they don’t have the money to put a roof over their heads. In the wealthiest country in the history of the world this is a national disgrace and as president I will end that disgrace.

It is not acceptable to me that wealthy real estate developers in Nevada and throughout the country are gentrifying neighborhoods and forcing working families out of the homes and apartments where they have lived their entire lives and replacing them with fancy condos and luxurious homes that only the very rich can afford.

Today, Nevada has the greatest shortage of affordable housing and the highest rate of homeless youth in the entire country.
Last year, Las Vegas had just 10 affordable housing rental units available for every 100 low-income households.  That has got to change.

Unfortunately, right now we have a president who isn’t just ignoring the affordable housing crisis, he and his administration are actively making it worse.

Instead of expanding federal housing programs, Trump is proposing to cut them by $9.6 billion or 18 percent.

Instead of working to substantially reduce the outrageously high price of housing, Trump is proposing to triple what some of the poorest senior citizens and persons with disabilities in America are paying for rent today.

Instead of expanding affordable housing, Trump is proposing to eliminate the National Housing Trust Fund, which invests in affordable housing and was based on legislation I spearheaded in Congress.

Unlike Donald Trump, I did not grow up in a wealthy family and live in expensive housing.

I was born and raised in a three-and-a-half room rent-controlled apartment in Brooklyn, New York. My father was a paint salesman who worked hard his entire life, but never made much money. This was not a life of desperate poverty -- but coming from a lower middle-class family, I will never forget how money, or really lack of money, was always a point of stress in our home.

My mother's dream was that someday our family would move out of that apartment to a home of our own. She died young, and her dream was never fulfilled. But during her life, at least our family was always able to afford a roof over our heads, because we were living in a rent-controlled building, which meant that for our family, rents could not be arbitrarily raised.

That most minimal form of economic security was crucial for our family, but today that type of economic security does not exist for millions of Americans.  That has got to change.
In the richest country in the history of the world, I believe that every American should have a fundamental right to safe, decent and affordable housing and I will be introducing a plan to do just that.

Let me very briefly describe to you what this plan will contain.

Under this plan, we will significantly and permanently expand the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund to construct, rehabilitate and preserve the 7.4 million units of housing that lower-income people, senior citizens and people with disabilities desperately need.

We will create an additional 2 million units of mixed-income housing to help desegregate and integrate communities.

Not only will this close the affordable housing gap, it will create millions of good-paying jobs in the process. When I talk about rebuilding America’s infrastructure, I am talking about building the millions of units of low-income and affordable housing this country desperately needs.

Under this plan, we will fully fund the Section 8 rental assistance program so that every American who is eligible for this program is able to get it without being put on a waiting list – waiting lists today which in some communities force people to wait years to get the housing they need.

And we will also make sure that no landlord in America can discriminate against someone who is on the Section 8 program by denying them a place to live.

Under this plan, we will invest more than $32 billion over the next five years to end homelessness in America and provide critical outreach services to those who are experiencing chronic homelessness.

Under this plan, we will invest $70 billion to repair and expand our dilapidated public housing stock.  There is an enormous amount of public housing that has been neglected for years and is in need of massive repair and refurbishment.  Public housing residents should no longer be forced to live in unhealthy and unsafe conditions because of a massive underinvestment in these facilities.

Under this plan, we will provide $50 billion in grants for states, cities and towns to establish community land trusts that will enable over a million households to purchase affordable homes over the next 25 years.  Land trust housing enables people to enjoy the advantages of homeownership while keeping housing perpetually affordable.

When I was mayor of Burlington, Vermont, we were the first municipality in the country to implement a community land trust and this concept is now being successfully utilized throughout the country and around the world.

At a time when the people in communities throughout our country are seeing massive rent increases, I want to congratulate the states of California, New York and Oregon for recently passing rent control laws which begin to address this problem.

The bad news is that in America today, 32 states preempt or limit the ability of communities to establish rent control or stabilization rules to protect the American people against excessive increases in rent.
It is clear to me therefore, that in the midst of this national housing emergency we need federal policy which protects tenants from the greed we are seeing in the real estate industry.

Under my plan, we will establish a national rent control standard, capping annual rent increases throughout the country at no more than one and a half times the rate of inflation or three percent whichever is higher. Additionally, we need to allow cities and states to go even further to protect tenants from the skyrocketing price of housing. 

Landlords in Nevada, Vermont and all over America should not be able to simply raise rents to any level they want, any time they want. But our plan will understand that Wyoming is not Seattle, that West Virginia is not San Francisco and we will allow states and cities the flexibility they need to address their housing needs within the framework of a national rent stabilization policy.

Further, we need to make sure that communities are able to require real estate developers to include affordable housing in the construction of new developments. Creating fancy new housing is fine, but it has got to include a decent percentage of affordable housing as well.

Under this plan, we will aggressively defend and promote the legal protections of fair housing, and make sure that no one is denied housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, gender or disability.

When I am president, we will end the modern-day redlining that subjects people of color to unfair loan processes and arbitrary denials.

Further, let us never forget that 11 years ago, the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs, homes, and life savings.  And no state in America suffered worse than Nevada. 

In 2010, 65 percent of all homeowners in this state were underwater on their mortgages and over half of workers in the residential construction industry lost their jobs.

And while the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve gave Wall Street a multi-trillion dollar bailout with no strings attached, against my strong opposition, the federal government did virtually nothing to help struggling Americans keep their homes.

My administration will be looking out for working families and tenants, not the billionaires who control Wall Street.

Now, the plan that I am releasing today is expensive.  It will cost about $2.5 trillion over the next decade.  And let me be clear about how we will be paying for it. At a time when we have seen a massive transfer of wealth from the working families of this country to the top 1 percent. When over the last 30 years, that top one percent has seen a $21 trillion increase in its wealth we are going to establish a wealth tax on the top one-tenth of one percent – the wealthiest 175,000 households who own more wealth than the bottom 83 percent of Americans.

Under our proposal, 99.9 percent of Americans will not see their taxes go up by one nickel.

For too long the federal government has ignored the extraordinary housing crisis in our country. That will end when I am President.

Thank you all very much.