Joe Biden’s surprisingly visionary housing plan, explained

Joe Biden has a housing policy agenda that is ambitious, technically sound, and politically feasible, and that would — if implemented — be life-changing for millions of low-income and housing-insecure households.

According to original modeling by Columbia University scholars, it could cut child poverty by a third, narrow racial opportunity gaps, and potentially drive progress on the broader middle-class affordability crisis in the largest coastal cities as well.

The plan hasn’t stirred an intraparty debate or really much attention at all, which could make it politically feasible to enact.

“Biden’s plan is bold, comprehensive, and will go a long way in making sure every American has a home,” Mary Cunningham, the vice president for metropolitan housing and communities policy at the Urban Institute, tells me. “It’s plainly obvious, in the middle of this pandemic, that home is more important than ever.”

The centerpiece is simple. Take America’s biggest rental assistance program — Section 8 housing vouchers — and make it available to every family who qualifies. The current funding structure leaves out around 11 million people, simply because the pot allocated by Congress is too small. Then pair it with regulatory changes to help the housing market work better for more people. It’s the general consensus approach among top Democratic Party politicians and left-of-center policy wonks. Read more.

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