Habitat for Humanity: Presidential debates must address housing affordability
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Habitat for Humanity: Presidential debates must address housing affordability

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ATLANTA (Sept. 4, 2019) – (RealEstateRama) – More than 100 Habitat for Humanity organizations throughout the country are calling on debate organizers and presidential candidates to address the nation’s urgent housing affordability needs at the debate hosted by ABC News and Univision next week.

Habitat

Moderators George Stephanopoulos, David Muir, Linsey Davis and Jorge Ramos will be joined by 10 Democratic presidential candidates for a one-night debate in Houston on Sept. 12 to discuss their policy positions and campaign platforms. In previous debates this year, campaign moderators have failed to raise the issue of housing affordability.

“More than 38 million families are paying too much for a place to call home,” the Habitat organizations wrote in a letter to the debate moderators and network heads. “It’s clear that access to affordable homes is one of the greatest challenges facing Americans today and should be at the forefront of the 2020 election. But so far, the presidential candidate debates have failed to include a question about this important issue. That needs to change. You can open the door for greater discussion on this topic by asking each candidate a question about how they plan to address the nation’s need for housing affordability.”

This year, Habitat for Humanity launched Cost of Home, a five-year advocacy campaign which aims to improve home affordability for 10 million people in the United States. Through this campaign, Habitat is mobilizing local organizations, partners, volunteers and community members across the country to find solutions and help create policies to advance access to safe, decent and affordable homes.

Habitat for Humanity encourages all candidates and elected officials to approach housing affordability in a bipartisan manner, and calls on them to develop bold housing plans.

The full letter, addressed to the network heads and debate moderators, follows:

Habitat for Humanity urges you to ask the presidential candidates during the September debates how they would address the significant home affordability gap communities across the country are grappling with. 

More than 38 million families are paying too much for a place to call home. Rents and homeownership costs are skyrocketing, while wages are not keeping pace. Far too often, families struggling to make ends meet are forced to choose between a safe, decent place to live and other necessities like nutritious food or healthcare. This problem affects people everywhere. In cities, suburbs and rural areas alike, the stability that home should bring remains out of reach.

Earlier this year Habitat for Humanity launched a national advocacy campaign—Cost of Home—to improve home affordability for 10 million people over the next five years. To adequately address the issue, the next administration and Congress will need to identify and pass viable federal policy solutions that will fuel and sustain the growth of affordable housing. As we’ve begun to more actively engage elected officials at all levels of government, we’ve witnessed growing support for these policies. We expect to see that momentum gain even more traction in the next Congress.

As such, we believe now is the time for our presidential candidates to talk about their housing policy positions. According to a recent national public opinion poll, Opportunity Starts at Home, 60% of people say housing affordability is a serious problem where they live. Eighty-three percent say elected officials are not paying enough attention to the cost of housing and the need for more affordable housing. Nearly eight in 10 people in the U.S. say the president should “take major action” to make housing more affordable for low-income families. That is why it is paramount that presidential candidates formulate their affordable housing policy positions now. 

It’s clear that access to affordable homes is one of the greatest challenges facing Americans today and should be at the forefront of the 2020 election. But so far, the presidential candidate debates have failed to include a question about this important issue. That needs to change. You can open the door for greater discussion on this topic by asking each candidate a question about how they plan to address the nation’s need for housing affordability. We’ve drafted a few questions for consideration and inclusion:

  • With rent and home prices at close to their highest levels in 40 years, more than 18 million U.S. households are spending half or more of their income on housing. What role do you believe the federal government should play in supporting housing affordability, and what steps would you take to ensure that all Americans have access to a safe, decent and affordable home?
  • The need for more affordable homeownership opportunities is felt by Americans across the country. The United States is facing a severe affordable housing shortage, the effects of which are disproportionately borne by people of color. What role would your administration play in creating more affordable homeownership options in all communities in the United States?
  • We often hear about the affordable housing problems in places like New York and California, but the facts show Americans are facing housing prices far too high across the country. Here in Texas, nearly a fourth of all renters are spending more than half their income on housing. What is your plan to address affordable housing, not only on the coasts, but in other urban, suburban and rural areas across the nation?

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely, 

Habitat for Humanity International and below signed state and local affiliated organizations

Alabama Habitat for Humanity

Alachua Habitat for Humanity (FL)

Blue Water Habitat for Humanity (MI)

Cave Run Area Habitat for Humanity (KY)

Chatham Habitat for Humanity (NC)

Chicagoland Habitat for Humanity (IL)

Danville & Pittsylvania County Habitat for Humanity (VA)

Edisto Habitat for Humanity (SC)

Elizabeth City Habitat for Humanity (NC)

Genesee County Habitat for Humanity (MI)

Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity (OH)

Greater Indianapolis Habitat for Humanity (IN)

Greater Jackson Habitat for Humanity (MI)

Greeley-Weld Habitat for Humanity (CO)

Gwinnett County Habitat for Humanity (GA)

Habitat for Humanity Buffalo (NY)

Habitat for Humanity California, State Organization

Habitat for Humanity Chicago (IL)

Habitat for Humanity Greater Fresno Area (CA)

Habitat for Humanity in Nassau County NY, Inc. (NY)

Habitat for Humanity in Okaloosa County (FL)

Habitat for Humanity Menominee River (MI)

Habitat for Humanity Metro Maryland (MD)

Habitat for Humanity Montgomery and Delaware Counties (PA)

Habitat for Humanity North Carolina

Habitat for Humanity of Beaver County (PA)

Habitat for Humanity of Bowling Green/Warren (KY)

Habitat for Humanity of Bucks County (PA)

Habitat for Humanity of Colorado

Habitat for Humanity of Craven County (NC)

Habitat for Humanity of Florida

Habitat for Humanity of Frederick Co. (WV)

Habitat for Humanity of Georgia

Habitat for Humanity of Goldsboro-Wayne (NC)

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Cincinnati (OH)

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh (NY)

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh (PA)

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Plymouth (MA)

Habitat for Humanity of Hall County (GA)

Habitat for Humanity of Henderson (KY)

Habitat for Humanity of Hopkins County (KY)

Habitat for Humanity of Island County (WA)

Habitat for Humanity of Kansas City (MO)

Habitat for Humanity of La Pine Sunriver (OR)

Habitat for Humanity of Laredo, Inc. (TX)

Habitat for Humanity of Lenawee County (MI)

Habitat for Humanity of Lincoln County (OR)

Habitat for Humanity of Mahoning Valley (OH)

Habitat for Humanity of Michigan

Habitat for Humanity of New Castle County (DE)

Habitat for Humanity of Ohio

Habitat for Humanity of Seminole-Apopka (FL)

Habitat for Humanity of Springfield, MO, Inc. (MO)

Habitat for Humanity of Summit & Wasatch Counties (UT)

Habitat for Humanity of Sumner County TN, Inc. (TN)

Habitat for Humanity of the San Juans (CO)

Habitat for Humanity of Tompkins and Cortland Counties (NY)

Habitat for Humanity of Washington State

Habitat for Humanity of Wood County Ohio, Inc. (OH)

Habitat for Humanity Peninsula & Greater Williamsburg (VA)

Habitat for Humanity of Philadelphia (PA)

Habitat for Humanity Saint Louis (MO)

Habitat for Humanity Southwest Alabama (AL)

Habitat for Humanity St. Tammany West (LA)

Habitat for Humanity Tucson (AZ)

Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley (CO)

Habitat for Humanity Virginia

Habitat for Humanity MidOhio (OH)

Habitat for Humanity Wake County (NC)

Helena Area Habitat for Humanity (MT)

HiawathaLand Habitat for Humanity (MI)

Huntington WV Area Habitat for Humanity (WV)

Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity (IA)

Kentucky Habitat for Humanity

Lexington Habitat for Humanity (KY)

Lincoln/Lancaster County Habitat for Humanity (NE)

Loudon County Habitat for Humanity (TN)

Morris Habitat for Humanity, Inc. (NJ)

Murray Calloway County Habitat for Humanity (KY)

Nevada County Habitat for Humanity (CA)

New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity (LA)

North St. Louis County Habitat for Humanity (MO)

Northeast Mississippi Habitat for Humanity (MS)

Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity (NJ)

Northwest Metro Atlanta Habitat for Humanity (GA)

Northwest Michigan Habitat for Humanity (MI)

Our Towns Habitat for Humanity (VA)

Paterson Habitat for Humanity (NJ)

Person County Habitat for Humanity (NC)

Piedmont Habitat for Humanity (VA)

Roscommon Habitat for Humanity (MI)

San Diego Habitat for Humanity (CA)

Sea Island Habitat for Humanity (SC)

South County Habitat for Humanity (RI)

South Puget Sound Habitat for Humanity (WA)

South Shore Habitat for Humanity (GA)

Summit Habitat for Humanity (CO)

Troy-Pike Habitat for Humanity (AL)

Union County Habitat for Humanity, Inc. (KY)

Watauga County Habitat for Humanity (NC)

To learn more about Habitat’s Cost of Home campaign, visit habitat.org/costofhome.

About Habitat for Humanity

Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity began in 1976 as a grassroots effort on a community farm in southern Georgia. The Christian housing organization has since grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in local communities across all 50 states in the U.S. and in more than 70 countries. Families and individuals in need of a hand up partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit habitat.org.

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