Candidates Respond to Question on Affordable Housing during South Carolina Debate

Seven Democratic candidates for president - Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Tom Steyer and Mike Bloomberg – took to the stage for a presidential debate hosted by CBS and the DNC, in Charleston, SC, on February 25.  NLIHC and our partners in the non-partisan Our Homes, Our Votes 2020 candidate and voter engagement project have worked to ensure candidates tell voters how they would address the nation’s affordable housing and homelessness crisis: we have educated and met with candidates, urging them to put forward comprehensive plans to the crisis; pushed moderators to ask candidates for their solutions; and, in advance of the debate, worked with debate co-sponsor the Congressional Black Caucus Institute. Our efforts paid off!


During the debate, moderator Major Garrett, host of CBS’s 60 Minutes, asked a question submitted through Twitter to Senator Klobuchar, "How will your policy address and ensure affordable housing and education equity for minimum wage workers?"  Here’s some of what the candidates had to say:

Senator Klobuchar:

“One sure way we can make sure that kids get a good start is if they have a roof over their head and a stable place to live. So the way you do that is, first of all, taking care of the Section 8 backlog of applicants. There are literally hundreds of thousands of people waiting. And I have found a way to pay for this and a way to make sure that people get off that list and get into housing. Secondly, you create incentives for affordable housing to be built and, third, to help people pay for it”

Senator Warren:

“It is not enough to talk about housing neutrally and just be race-blind. It is important to recognize the role that the federal government played for decades and decades in discriminating against African-Americans having an opportunity to buy homes. . . .  I have a housing plan, and what it has in it specifically [deals] with the effects of red-lining. We can no longer pretend that everything is race-neutral. We have got to address race consciously.”

Mayor Bloomberg:

“Let me just say, when you're talking about affordable housing, we created 175,000 units of affordable housing in New York City. [Members of] Congress . . . they say they can't get it done, can't get it done. But if you change something like the president, they would.”

Vice President Biden:

“I provide for the opportunity for first-time home buyers to be able to have a $15,000 tax credit so they can get the mortgage at the front end and be able to keep it. . . . I go after those people who are involved gentrification. I make sure that with regard to housing, we allow people - look, right now if you live in a Black neighborhood and you have the same exact house as the guy across the street in a white neighborhood has, your house is valued significantly less than the white, the same exact house. We've got to deal with the institutional racism.”

Mayor Buttigieg:

“All of these things are connected, housing, wages, the ability to get anything meaningful done on criminal justice reform. All of these things are going to be harder to deal with as long as Black voices are systematically excluded from political participation.”

Mr. Steyer:  

“Every single policy area in the United States has a gigantic subtext of race. We're talking about education. We're talking about criminal justice. We're talking about housing. We're talking about loans. I started a bank to basically correct the injustice in the financial services industry. Basically, to make loans to Black-owned, Latino-owned, and women-owned businesses. We've supported over 8,000 affordable housing units.”

Senator Sanders did not answer this specific question but, as he has in each of the ten debates so far this cycle, he mentioned that more than half a million people in our country are experiencing homelessness.

See overviews of each of these candidates housing plans and more of what they have said about them at: