Housing for All
California’s future success depends on housing for our workforce and our families. Yet, for over 35 years, Congress has failed to make a major investment in housing affordability and supply. Career politicians, lulled into complacency or complicity by corporate PAC money, have not delivered real solutions. As a result, housing has spiraled into a full-blown crisis in California, driving severe homelessness challenges and pushing our next generation of workers out of California. Katie has made building more housing her number one priority from day one of her campaign, lifting up our challenges and drawing Washington’s attention to this issue.
The statistics are staggering. Our state’s homeownership rate is 10 points lower than the rest of the nation, yet Congress has not prioritized housing. California needs to build almost a million homes to adequately meet our needs. Housing prices are rising faster than wages in nearly every part of the state, with typical costs increasing 40% since March 2020. Renters are unable to earn enough to keep a stable residence, with over 85% of earners at or below the median income spending so much that they are cost-burdened (spending more than 30% of their income on housing). California’s housing problems hurt all but the most wealthy.
Simply put, California does not have enough homes, and housing is too expensive for most Californians. We deserve a Senator with real world experience in housing and the courage to shake up the Senate and get Washington focused on California’s housing challenges.
Beginning over a century ago, the federal government successfully enacted policies to help families with housing. For example, the GI Bill and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) fueled mass construction of single-family starter homes that forged our middle class, albeit at the exclusion of Americans who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC); a wrong that must be righted to address enduring racial injustices. Over time, with Washington engaged in partisan bickering and catering to corporate lobbyists, Congress has been more concerned with padding Wall Street’s profits with tax cuts for the wealthy than our need for quality, affordable housing.
Especially after the Great Recession and foreclosure crisis, Washington failed to adjust housing policy to make housing more accessible, instead prioritizing bailouts to the nation’s largest banks. As a consumer advocate and foreclosure fighter, Katie saw these disastrous policies firsthand in our communities, as she held Big Banks’ feet to the fire to stop cheating Californians out of their homes.
Every Californian needs an affordable, safe, climate-resilient home for purchase or rent where they can proudly live and raise their families. Katie’s ten-point housing plan lays out how she’ll tackle—and solve—our housing crisis. It 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.
- 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. 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.
- Close the housing gap for low-income families through major federal investment: 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.
Shake up the Senate
Too many Californians have lost trust in government. Congress continues to rank lower than any major American institution when it comes to public confidence: often, less than one-fifth of Americans approve of its job performance. Congress has ranked lower than the White House and Supreme Court; even lower than Big Banks and Big Tech. That is because career politicians auction off laws to the highest bidders, with greedy corporations spending billions in campaign donations to purchase friendly laws and lawmakers.
What results is a Congress with little accountability to the people it is supposed to serve. In 2023, Congress passed the fewest laws in decades—only 27. Content to be reelected by special interest money instead of their accomplishments, career politicians thrive by letting lobbyists dictate what becomes law and avoiding tackling our problems. This pattern has created a rigged economy stacked against everyday people, and it is past time for this legal corruption to end.
The reason Congress works so well for Washington insiders is that lobbyists know exactly what politicians are doing and how to hold them accountable. Congress will work better for the rest of America when regular people can do that. We need to end the special access corporations have enjoyed for years and put that power back in the hands of Californians.
That starts with making government more transparent—exposing what Washington is doing (and not doing) for the public to see, comment on, and understand. We must peel back the curtain on how taxpayer dollars are spent, how public officials are spending their time, and how elected representatives are voting and legislating.
At the same time, we also have to end longstanding practices in Congress that feed endless partisan jockeying, which only creates gridlock that empowers special interests at the people’s expense.
Before Katie ran for Congress, she was a Consumer Protection Attorney and taught consumer protection law. She saw firsthand how mega-corporations have a special interest playbook and how they use it in Washington and in our economy to cheat everyday Americans. We need to be able to count on our elected officials to fight for us, to stand up to corporate abuse, and to help create an economy that is fair and stable.
Kaite’s six-point plan to Shake Up the Senate lays out how she’ll rewrite the rules to make government work for all Califonians, not corporate special interests.
- Ban federal lobbyist contributions: We should ban all members of the U.S. Senate from accepting federal lobbyist contributions. Katie is one of 11 members of Congress who rejects contributions from federal lobbyists—and this pledge should be the rule, not the exception. Too many elected officials continue to have their hands out to lobbyists and the special interests that employ them. Let’s end this legalized corruption and get Washington working for regular people.
- Ban corporate PAC donations: We should ban all members of the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives from accepting donations from corporate political action committees (PACs). Katie is the only elected official in this race who has never taken a dime from corporate PACs. Multinational corporations unfairly dominate Washington and our legal system, drowning out the voices of everyday Americans by making campaign donations to politicians. As the top House Democratic fundraiser in the 2022 election cycle, Katie has set an example that a grassroots army can win us the toughest, most expensive races.
- Eliminate pet-project funding for politicians, also known as earmarks: We should ban earmarks and direct money to the communities and projects that need it the most. There are too many stories of members of Congress using the earmarks to steer funds to their well-connected donors and friends. This process negates the advice of neutral experts, who are best equipped to determine where the need is greatest, and often means that historically disadvantaged areas and communities of color do not get the help they need. Earmarks shortchange Californians, who only have 2% of Senators but 12% of the country’s population. Thirty-four states receive more money per person than California does, with two states getting more than 16x what we get. Katie will be a warrior for getting Californians our actual fair share of federal investment.
- Ban Senators from Trading Stocks: We must ban top officials—from the President to Supreme Court Justices to members of Congress—from trading individual stocks while in office. Katie swore upon her election that she wouldn’t trade stocks—and has kept her promise. She’s spearheaded the STOCK Act 2.0 with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, which would ban top government officials and their families from owning and trading individual stocks or other financially conflicted interests. Katie’s bill would cover Congress, Supreme Court justices, both the President and Vice President, leaders of the Federal Reserve, and their spouses and dependents.
- Ban singular holds on nominations and abolish the filibuster: No single United States Senator should be able to halt the entire body’s business. Katie will get the Senate back to work by doing away with the filibuster and stopping individual members from putting holds on bills and nominations. Things should be coming to the floor for a vote, not stuck in limbo. Americans everywhere deserve to know where their elected officials stand.
- Make the Senate accountable to the people: Katie is one of just a handful of Congressmembers who publicly releases every official meeting she takes. She lets Californians know who she meets with, because what happens behind closed doors in the Capitol should be the people’s business. Katie has introduced legislation to make this the standard practice for all her colleagues. Amid reports that members of Congress have spent hundreds of thousands of official funds on travel—including on private jets—Katie wrote a bill to force lawmakers to inform the public where, when, and how they travel on the taxpayers’ dime. These reforms would bring much-needed accountability to the legislative branch and root out waste, fraud, and abuse of our tax dollars.
Planet for Our Future
California is on the frontlines of climate change. Yet, for decades, career politicians have exacerbated the crisis. They’ve given sweetheart deals to Big Oil and failed to safeguard us from natural disasters, all while ignoring our crumbling electric grid.
The result: devastating wildfires, droughts, and more recently, atmospheric river events continue to harm Californians. And, as billions of dollars in climate-related damages stack up, our leaders continue failing to build the infrastructure needed to deploy clean energy and solve the climate crisis.
Time is running out, and our state’s future is at stake. California has not always had a fierce environmental champion in the U.S. Senate; we cannot afford to let that be the case ever again. Congress must end the cycle of supporting polluters over people—and we need a Senator who has never been beholden to Big Oil to do the work.
Katie knows that climate change is one of the largest crises Californians face and is ready to break Washington’s habit of serving the interests of polluters. She knows we need bold leadership that looks forward with clear eyes at the risks of climate change. At every turn, she’ll oppose federal subsidies and tax breaks for polluters and will require them to clean up their messes.
Katie will bring back California’s appropriate share of federal investments to achieve net-zero carbon pollution. We have done the work on climate, from households adopting environmentally friendly practices, like food waste recycling, to our state setting the most ambitious climate goals in the nation. Our federal government should reward Californians, who have led the way, rather than directing federal investments into anti-union, polluter-friendly states.
As the only Member of Congress in this race who has served on the Natural Resources Committee, Katie has gone up against polluters and advocated for resources that Californians desperately need. She’s seen firsthand how the fossil fuel lobby uses its cash to buy votes in Washington, preventing policies that advance the energy of the 21st century, like solar and wind.
Katie isn’t afraid to rewrite the rules to make the federal government work for us—not corporations—and focus on policies that will create a resilient California for generations to come. Her eight-point plan lays out how she’ll protect our environment, tackle the climate crisis, and secure California’s fair share of federal green investments.
- Holding polluters accountable: Katie will hold Big Oil accountable for exploiting taxpayers and will fight for policies that protect the environment from fossil fuel drilling. Big Oil has reaped the benefits of sweetheart deals for too long: companies have been able to drill on public lands for pennies on the acre and have only had to pay a fraction of the cost for the cleanup. Katie successfully pressured the Biden Administration to update the rules to make Big Oil put up enough money for cleanup up front instead of leaving taxpayers on the hook for its messes afterward. In the Senate, Katie will fight to make those changes permanent. Katie’s Ending Taxpayer Welfare for Oil and Gas Companies Act was signed into law, increasing what polluters must pay to drill on public lands. She co-leads legislation to end fossil fuel subsidies and will push to get it done in the Senate, building on her successful record in the House debunking an oil executive’s claim that the industry doesn’t receive special tax breaks.
- Protecting our public lands: Preserving our public lands and waters will mitigate the harms of climate change while protecting our planet for generations to come. In the Senate, Katie will lead the charge to make our public lands accessible to all, building on her leadership of the Every Kid Outdoors Program that provides universal free park access to fourth grade students and her oversight of disability access to federal lands. Katie will keep sounding the alarm about the shrinking National Park Service workforce and lead Senate efforts to streamline its hiring process. She has visited national parks to see how climate change is creating infrastructure challenges and will fight for investments to make our most beautiful and fragile lands resilient to climate harms. Katie strongly supports efforts to protect 30 percent of our natural landscapes by 2030 and to make sure these protected lands include communities that lack recreation and green space. She will continue her leadership in rejecting Big Oil’s efforts to drill on protected lands without proper environmental review and public input.
- Fighting for California’s fair share of water: Despite historic droughts, California has been the leader in conserving water among the Colorado River Basin States and has helped bring Lake Mead’s water level back up after hitting record lows. Despite these sacrifices, climate change makes the reliability of California’s water supplies uncertain. That is why Katie spent countless hours in Natural Resources Committee hearings fighting anti-science efforts to eliminate a critical federal program that monitors the Colorado River’s supply and addresses water shortages. She will fight in the Senate to make the program permanent. Katie will also continue her successful track record of securing millions of federal water infrastructure dollars. In the House, she secured money for the expansion of recycled water projects, groundwater storage projects, and the Syphon Reservoir Project, which will expand water storage capacity ten-fold. Katie will be a warrior in the Senate for California’s water infrastructure needs, allowing us to stretch our water resources and protect fragile environments.
- Making California resilient from future climate disasters: For years, career politicians have failed to tackle the climate crisis, leaving Californians vulnerable to devastating disasters. Washington has not updated its response to climate-related disasters, continuing a backwards-looking approach to expensive aid programs rather than investing in climate resilience. Katie knows that poor disaster response is a failure of oversight. As your next Senator, Katie will continue to advance her legislation that creates a nonpartisan, investigative agency to study and provide recommendations to better address wildfires, earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods. In the House, Katie led a bipartisan effort to uncover solutions to the increasing challenges of obtaining homeowners insurance in California. She will push to make it affordable for working families in high-risk areas to improve the resilience of their homes and will avoid repeating the mistakes of the effectively-bankrupt National Flood Insurance Program, which pays out about one-third of its resources to 1% of properties—rather than creating strategies to prevent expensive climate disasters. We as taxpayers cannot keep paying out hundreds of billions of dollars each decade because Washington has failed to enact climate-mitigation policies.
- Investing in clean and renewable energy: California leads the nation in clean energy research and renewable energy adoption. We know firsthand how investing in the technology of tomorrow strengthens our economy and helps avert climate-related disasters. But, we are consistently shortchanged on our share of federal funding for clean energy, despite having led the way and having a large population in harm’s way from climate change. Katie will make sure the federal government rewards California for our clean energy investment and harnesses our renewable energy potential. For example, Katie has led the fight to get California its needed share of federal funding to give every kid a safe ride to school on an electric school bus. This strategy is proven to save taxpayer dollars, improve student performance, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and traffic. Katie will advocate for investments in research and development of clean energy fuels in our long-distance transportation sector—such as trucking, aviation, and maritime shipping—which is the hardest sector to decarbonize. She will oppose expansions of fossil fuel infrastructure, like the construction of new LNG terminals, that would reverse our climate progress. With her deep commitment to oversight, Katie will advance clean energy development that avoids the deep environmental injustices created by the fossil fuel industry in our low-income communities. Finally, Katie will build on the progress of the Inflation Reduction Act by helping low-income Californians afford electric vehicles, extending the electric vehicle tax credit, building more infrastructure that Californians need to charge their electric vehicles, and strengthening credits for wind and solar power development.
- Upgrading our national electric grid: For far too long, career politicians have only passed legislation that streamlines the approval of new natural gas projects, leaving our national electric grid to deteriorate since its construction in the 1960s and 1970s. The consequences of this inaction are an aging electricity grid, prone to power outages and climate-related disasters, and unable to effectively deliver electricity created by renewable sources like wind and solar. Katie released a Congressional report that documents the barriers to modernizing our electric grid, and as California’s next Senator, Katie will pass the legislation needed to update our national electric grid. Without these reforms to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), we cannot reduce greenhouse gas emissions fast enough to mitigate the worst harms of climate change. Standing up to polluters, Katie will advance policies that streamline the approval of clean energy projects and that update our electrical grid to be climate resilient and energy efficient.
- Fully implement the Inflation Reduction Act: The Inflation Reduction Act is our nation’s largest ever investment in fighting climate change, but too much of the law has not yet been implemented. Californians are still waiting on billions of dollars in promised rebates for home energy efficiency and electrification projects. As a single mom of three, Katie knows firsthand the frustration of how high costs can make it hard to upgrade to safer, energy-efficient appliances. That is why she’s forcefully pushed the Biden Administration to get clean energy rebates and tax credits to California families. Katie will also do oversight of implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act, stopping federal funding from going to Big Oil companies that continue to lobby for subsidies and de-regulation. Katie will fight for Californians suffering from past environmental injustices and pollutants, who should be at the front of clean energy investments that improve access to clean air and water and reduce health harms.
- Decarbonizing our infrastructure: As our country builds next-generation infrastructure, we must transition to using next-generation construction materials. For example, cement is the most widely-used material on the planet, but it is also one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, representing 8% of the total. In the Senate, Katie will fight for federal investment in and tax incentives for the development of clean cement technology, boosting a critical market that has great potential to reduce emissions. California produces more cement than any other state, and with the right investments, our state can be the market leader for the green building materials of the future. Katie also sees the connection between California’s housing affordability crisis and climate change. Her Housing for All plan is explicit about the need to use climate resilient materials and greener technology for home building.