Our Second Idea
I want to tell you about another of our Eight Ideas in the 8th!
Last week began our weekly announcement of sensible policy ideas that I will pursue if elected to Virginia’s 8th district on November 4th. Today’s idea highlights my intention to work on economic improvements to help the most needy.
Our nation lacks sufficient affordable housing, driving hundreds of thousands of households further into poverty by forcing them to pay higher rent than they can afford. We need to follow through on the nation’s promise to fund the National Housing Trust Fund, which was signed into law by President Bush in 2008.
When people are hungry, it is not because there isn’t enough food in this country. But when people can’t find affordable shelter in the United States, often it is because there are limited houses or rental units in their price range.
The rule of thumb on housing is that people should spend no more than 30 percent of their gross income on it. But in this congressional district alone, nearly 21,000 low-income households pay more than half their gross income for shelter! Nationally, that number is 11 million.
It was with this crisis in mind that the National Housing Trust Fund was established six years ago. The intention was to fund the construction, preservation and rehabilitation of affordable units through block grants to every state.
But the funding sources – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – ran into trouble. Those government-sponsored companies went into conservatorship. Now they are profitable again, but to date have not contributed. Forcing their contribution is one option for funding.
Another proposal that is gaining traction from people of all political stripes is reform of the mortgage interest deduction. That deduction, intended to expand home ownership, helps upper-income people more than middle and lower-income people. One-third of the benefits go to homeowners with incomes over $200,000, who do not need us to subsidize their home purchases. Modifications to it, such as gradually converting it to a tax credit and lowering the cap on mortgages from $1 million to $500,000, could extend tax relief to even more households, while generating billions of new revenue. And some of this revenue could go to the Housing Trust Fund.
Thank you for being part of this journey. And please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have ideas you think we should pursue!