Porter, a housing expert, has made urgent housing action her top priority
CONTACT: Lindsay Reilly
CALIFORNIA—Congresswoman and U.S. Senate candidate Katie Porter today released a comprehensive ten-point housing plan that outlines how she would solve California’s housing crisis. Her Housing for All plan would urgently build more homes, bring down and stabilize rental costs, and increase homeownership opportunities for Californians.
“Housing is the top issue for Californians, but career politicians in Washington have been too slow to provide solutions,” said Porter, who was a consumer protection attorney on the front lines of the foreclosure crisis. “I have made housing the top issue since Day One of my campaign, because Californians’ highest priorities are my highest priorities. I don’t want my kids to leave California just because they can’t afford to live here. As California’s Senator, I’ll shake up the Senate and get Washington focused on California’s housing challenges. We need urgent action from DC, and I will get it done.”
Congress hasn’t made a major investment in housing affordability and supply in over 35 years. Katie’s plan harnesses the expertise of the federal government and redirects the capital of Wall Street toward building more homes, especially those that are affordable for working families. The plan would eliminate barriers to housing development, incentivize less costly construction that is energy-efficient, and use expanded homeownership to close the widening wealth gap.
Here are the ten points of Katie’s Housing for All plan:
- Create a Select Committee on Housing: Despite a decades-long housing crisis, Congress has no committee solely focused on increasing housing and reducing costs. Katie will create and lead a committee that delivers the housing solutions that California’s communities and families need, not just what boosts Wall Street’s profits.
- Urgently increase the supply of homes for purchase: California needs more homes to drive down prices, and Washington needs to step up to the plate. It’s virtually impossible to develop starter homes profitably and at scale. Incredibly, there are no federal subsidies for the construction or renovation of homes, such as triplexes, townhomes, or even single-family homes, that are ideal for first-time home buyers. Katie will push for improved tax credits and government loan guarantees, which will spur Wall Street to provide financing for increasing homeownership opportunities for our workforce.
- Washington must close the housing gap for low-income families: Millions of Californians do not earn enough to pay for housing and other necessities. This affordability bind pushes people into homelessness or housing instability. Katie will fully fund housing rental vouchers for the most severely housing-burdened families. To address the wealth inequalities that limit first-time homeowners, particularly people of color, Katie will make a federal investment in tools like down payment assistance and interest rate buy-downs. With these tools, low-income families contribute to their housing cost, and taxpayers avoid the staggering costs of homelessness and housing insecurity.
- Unleash private capital for home construction: In the 1930s, Congress established government-sponsored enterprises (today known as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae) to connect Wall Street capital to everyday Americans, who previously could not get mortgages. The result was a rocketing homeownership rate. Katie will expand these structures to guarantee and securitize the construction of one-to-four unit starter homes. With strong oversight, these agencies can tap into global capital markets to scale up the construction of modest-density homes that working families can afford to buy. These agencies already backstop large multi-family rental housing for corporate landlords. Everyday Californians deserve the benefit of the same tools to ratchet up homeownership opportunities.
- Break down local barriers: Solving the housing crisis requires all levels of government to engage. Katie will give incentives to communities that make it cheaper to build all the kinds of housing Californians need. Costs go up when cities require certain home styles or building materials, or impose oppressive rules like mandatory parking requirements. Lack of access to infrastructure, like sewage and utilities, prevents the construction of new housing at the necessary scale or cost. Katie will reward cities that enact reforms, dramatically increasing housing development at all price levels, which will, in turn, open up modestly priced homes to new homebuyers.
- Unlock government land: We need to stop the hostage race on increasing land values. Katie will press federal, state, and local agencies to release large swaths of buildable land that they own. Katie will make these agencies explain why they aren’t making these lands available for housing and provide incentives for state and local governments to release these lands for development.
- Encourage innovative homebuyer programs: Innovative mortgage lending programs can stop house prices from spiraling out of control for Californians. Katie will make it easier to form “land trusts,” in which communities and homebuyers share in the value of home appreciation. The land trust’s share of the appreciation is then used to lower entry costs for future homeowners in the development, creating a virtuous cycle of affordable homeownership for the future. Federal funds could help expand the California Dream for All shared appreciation loan, a successful and creative program to lower barriers to homeownership.
- Develop leases for Californians with fixed incomes: Katie will support new kinds of leases that help Californians who aren’t served well by traditional rental agreements. Seniors should be able to put down a small portion of their retirement savings in exchange for locking in long-term rental rates that don’t outpace Social Security’s cost of living adjustments. Katie will develop a government-backed program for four-year leases that allow college students to lock in rental costs during their studies.
- Invest in modern home manufacturing technologies: We have been manufacturing traditional “stick and brick” homes the same way for decades. Katie will make it easier for builders to develop and use the latest manufacturing techniques, like 3-D printed homes, which can reduce the cost of producing homes by 30% or more – and create high-paying, union jobs. These modern techniques are energy-efficient and use climate-resilient materials.
- Protect homebuyers from Wall Street greed: Increasingly, Wall Street firms are buying up houses, putting homeownership out of reach for families. These companies use their wealth to get more loan favorable terms than families can find, force prospective homeowners into renting because of a shortage of homes for sale, and relentlessly drive up rental prices to satisfy their investors. Katie will tax firms that buy up large numbers of homes, stopping this calamitous trend and incentivizing Wall Street to put these houses back on the market for everyday Californians.