I was a guest on CNBC’s Squawk Box this morning with former Governor Howard Dean discussing the just completed Republican and Democratic presidential convention. I attended the Republican convention and co-hosted a fundraising event and concert which was intended to raise awareness about the growing affordable housing crisis in the United States. Aided by award winning Country Music Band Big and Rich, 1500 attended including a number of House and Senate members. Housing advocate Representative Pat Tiberi was there and Ohio Senator Rob Portman spoke about the growing need for and importance of healthy, decent, affordable housing. I spoke about the relationship between housing and health, work and learning. Measured by the turnout and the buzz it was a rousing success. The beneficiary of the fundraiser was Make Room, a collaboration lead by Enterprise Community Partners. Make Room is a national campaign to publicize the hardship caused by the silent rental affordability crisis. HousingWire Article
Advocates had a huge win in both parties’ 2016 Platforms. The Republican Party Platform stressed that homeownership and rental needs both must be addressed in housing policy. It states: “More than six million households had to move from homeownership to renting [as a result of the Great Recession]. Rental costs escalated so that today nearly 12 million families spend more than 50% of their incomes just on rent.” The platform then directly links the declining national homeownership rate with rising rents: “The national homeownership rate has sharply fallen and the rate for minority households and young adults has plummeted. So many remain unemployed or underemployed, and for the lucky ones with jobs, rising rents make it harder to save for a mortgage.” Republican Platform
The Democratic Party Platform also addressed affordable housing: “We will increase the supply of affordable rental housing by expanding incentives and easing local barriers to building new affordable rental housing developments in areas of economic opportunity. We will substantially increase funding for the National Housing Trust Fund to construct, preserve, and rehabilitate millions of affordable housing rental units….We will reinvigorate housing production programs, repair public housing, and increase funding for the housing choice voucher program and other rental assistance programs.” Democratic Platform
There is plenty of common ground. Now it’s up to us to amplify and spread the message. And perhaps encourage the next President and lawmakers to have the political will to find a meaningful bipartisan solution.