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Sanders To Unveil Housing Plan, Advocates Push For Debate Questions

Another top-tier Democratic hopeful has released a detailed plan addressing the nation’s shortage of affordable homes as housing advocates push for even more coverage on the topic on debate stage.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders rolled out an affordable housing strategy preview Saturday at an event in Las Vegas, Nevada. The announcement came after the third round of Democratic presidential debates included no formal mention of housing, and President Donald Trump’s visit to California, prompting the possibility of a strong administrative response to the state’s rising homeless population.

“Senator Bernie Sanders’s recent preview of his ambitious plan on affordable housing is yet another example of candidates addressing the public’s demand for solutions to the housing crisis on the campaign trails like never before,” National Low Income Housing Coalition [NLIHC] president and CEO Diane Yentel said in a statement to Starting Line. “Despite tremendous interest, the last three Democratic presidential debates yielded no questions from moderators specifically asking candidates about their plan to end the housing and homelessness crisis.”

Joining 11 other Democratic candidates who have released housing overhauls, Sanders’ campaign said the senator is expected to formally roll out a full proposal in the coming days.

Currently, Sanders’ housing policy highlights:

-Adopting national rent control

-Constructing, rehabbing and preserving 7.4 million units of housing

-Building an additional 2 million mixed-income housing units

-Ending gentrification and housing discrimination

-Providing $50 billion to allow $1 million to buy affordable community land trust homes

“Under my plan we’ll establish a national rent control standard, capping annual rent increases throughout the country at no more than 1.5 times the rate of inflation or 3% — whichever is higher. We need to allow cities and states to go even further to protect tenants,” Sanders said.

Sanders is one of several candidates who has mentioned the country’s housing crisis in past debates. But housing advocates are still pushing for coverage of the topic on the national stage.

On Sept. 5, along with more than 600 housing or other non-profit organizations, the NLIHC sent a letter to ABC and Univision debate moderators George Stephanopoulos, David Muir, Linsey Davis and Jorge Ramos, urging them to ask each candidate how they’d address the nation’s affordable housing crisis.

“They are talking about these plans on the campaign trail — in town halls, forums, and coffees in New Hampshire, Iowa, and beyond,” the letter said. “But during the first two rounds of presidential debates, debate moderators have neglected to directly ask candidates how they would address our nation’s housing affordability crisis.”

The NLIHC also initiated a “tweetstorm” before the debates, encouraging people to flood moderator and candidate Twitter mentions and timelines with requests to cover the topic on stage.

However, moderators did not directly ask the candidates to address national housing concerns. The coalition is still hopeful housing may be touched on in upcoming debates, especially as increased attention on homelessness has surfaced after Trump’s visit to California.

“In a week when affordable housing and homelessness was on the front page of newspapers across the country, it is astonishing that the debate moderators neglected to ask any candidates for their solutions to the crisis,” Yentel wrote in a City Lab op-ed.

The Trump Administration has indicated support for criminalization, sweeps of unsheltered people living on the streets, and potentially moving them to federal homeless camps to address California’s homeless crisis.

Sanders noted Trump’s response to Californian homelessness when he discussed his housing strategy over the weekend.

“Instead of expanding federal housing programs, Trump is proposing to cut them by $9.6 billion or 18%,” Sanders said at the Las Vegas event. “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.”

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