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Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg unveils sweeping plan for “housing justice”

With the Nevada Caucus just a few days away, things should soon begin to get a little clearer in terms of who the real frontrunner is for the Democratic nomination for president.

Current odds place Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, as the favorite, although former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg appears to have some momentum, securing a place on the stage for Wednesday night’s Democratic debate in Las Vegas.

Both Sanders and Bloomberg have released housing policy plans, with Bloomberg’s coming earlier this week.

Bloomberg’s plan is making waves in housing because his plan calls for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to be merged into one company that would be fully owned by the government.

But Bloomberg wasn’t the only candidate to release a sweeping plan this week that would significantly impact the housing business.

This week, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg unveiled his own housing plan, which is titled “Coming Home: An Agenda for Housing Justice in America.”

Buttigieg’s plan calls for increased affordable housing, ensuring “equal access to an affordable 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage for working families,” and combatting “discrimination and predatory practices in housing and housing finance,” among other tenets.

“Pete is committed to housing justice. As President, he will use housing policy at every level of government as a tool to address injustices, reverse the discriminatory impacts of racist redlining, and build pathways to lasting economic and social opportunity,” Buttigieg’s website states.

“Pete’s vision for housing will invest in long-underfunded programs that provide critical support to families, and will help cities and states innovate to improve housing affordability and stability.

He will institute policies to reverse the intentional exclusion of people of color from homeownership, combat the moral crisis of homelessness, and stop lead poisoning from injuring our most vulnerable. He will appoint Cabinet leaders who are committed to fair housing and racial and economic justice,” the website continues.

“In a Buttigieg administration, families across the country will have greater access to affordable housing and communities will have the building blocks for inclusive revitalization. His administration will right the wrongs of the housing crisis, including by establishing strong consumer protections and implementing policies to rebalance our economy in favor of American families,” the website adds. “And it will reverse the effects of many generations of policy that locked some Americans out of homeownership and a place to live in neighborhoods of economic opportunity.”

As for specifics, unlike Bloomberg, Buttigieg calls for the continued existence of both Fannie and Freddie.

Under a section of the plan entitled “Build pathways to affordable homeownership while also ensuring that homeownership is not the only means to housing stability and building wealth,” Buttigieg says he will work to ensure the continued availability of the 30-year mortgage with government support.

“Pete will support and expand access to affordable, federally-backed home loans for low- and moderate-income families,” Buttigieg’s housing plan states. “In Pete’s administration, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will play their intended role in the housing finance system–ensuring liquidity for affordable mortgages while serving all qualified homebuyers, especially those who have not been well-served by the mortgage finance system to date.”

Beyond that, Buttigieg also calls for a $4 billion government investment that would enable 1 million households to become first-time homebuyers.

“Pete will provide $4 billion in matching funds to cities, states, and local organizations for the operation of affordable homeownership programs, with a priority for recipients from underserved populations, and support continued access to federal down payment assistance for both low- and moderate-income Americans,” Buttigieg’s plan states. “Pete will also support public housing residents and voucher recipients who wish to prepare for the transition to homeownership with housing counseling and financial assistance.”

Another big piece of Buttigieg’s plan would address the rise of large single-family rental landlords, many of which are backed by “Wall Street” financing and grew by buying foreclosed homes in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

“To prevent another housing crisis, expand access to affordable housing, and hold Wall Street accountable for taking advantage of American families, Pete will prevent the concentration of housing ownership stock in a small number of Wall Street hedge funds and private equity funds,” Buttigieg’s plan states. “It’s time to take power over our neighborhoods out of the hands of Wall Street. Pete will use the federal government’s antitrust authorities to stop homeownership from being concentrated in a few powerful Wall Street firms.”

Buttigieg also pledges to “hold bank executives and mortgage lenders criminally liable for robo-signing and other housing market abuses,” which should be received well by those who claimed that the Obama administration was far too lenient on the executives who led the companies that contributed to the housing crisis.

Buttigieg also calls for restoring the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to its more active status that existed prior to the Trump administration placing its stamp on the bureau.

“Consumer protections for homeowners are under attack. Pete will fully fund the CFPB and ensure that it remains a powerful watchdog to protect Americans from consumer financial abuse, including in the housing market,” Buttigieg’s plan states. “He will ensure that the federal government continues to defend consumers from price inflation and other abuses in the mortgage market, including by protecting Dodd-Frank’s appraisal independence provisions, which protect homebuyers from lenders with incentives to inflate the purchase price.”

And as for borrowers who were directly affected by the foreclosure wave that struck after the housing market collapsed, Buttigieg has a plan to help them buy a home again, including expanding the government’s mortgage support system.

“Nine million American families lost their homes to foreclosure or short sale between 2006 and 2014, and the homeownership rate plunged six percent from 2005 to 2016. And corporate America benefited: between 2011 and 2017, investors spent a combined $36 billion on homes in markets across the country—in some cases buying up to 90 percent of all homes sold in a metro area.” Buttigieg’s plan states. “In Atlanta, institutional investors own at least one in five single-family rentals. Pete will support Americans in returning to homeownership with expanded federally-backed affordable mortgages, homeownership counseling, and a new loan guarantee program to finance homeownership in distressed communities.”

To read the full plan, click here.

Read the article here.

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