Democratic Party and the Republican Party Platforms Address Affordable Housing

The recently adopted Democratic Party platform and Republican Party platform from 2016 (the Republicans did not adopt a new platform in 2020) both address housing-related policies, but the differences are stark. The Democratic platform promises robust investments in affordable housing production and rental assistance, strong efforts to address systemic racism and discrimination, and actions to address the coronavirus pandemic. The Republican platform seeks to advance responsible homeownership, reduce the role of the federal government in housing policy, and roll back the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule.

Democratic Platform

The 2020 Democratic platform includes language addressing the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on housing affordability and the eviction crisis; efforts to address the systemic and historic racism in housing policy; investments in the national Housing Trust Fund, Housing Choice Vouchers and Public Housing; and strong and proactive non-discrimination protections. The following are selections from the Democratic party platform:

“COVID-19 has laid bare deep fault lines in our economy, our society, and our health care system. Disparities in health care access, in access to paid sick leave, in environmental quality, in the employment market, and in housing have contributed to disproportionate rates of infection and death among Black Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, and certain Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.”

“The United States is facing an unprecedented housing crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and President Trump's recession, with millions of families at risk of being evicted. We support state and local measures to freeze rent increases, evictions, utility shutoffs, and late fees for rent, to prevent families from becoming homeless and making the pandemic even worse.”

“Housing in America should be stable, accessible, safe, healthy, energy efficient, and, above all, affordable. No one should have to spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing, so families have ample resources left to meet their other needs and save for retirement. Democrats believe the government should take aggressive steps to increase the supply of housing, especially affordable housing, and address long-standing economic and racial inequities in our housing markets.”

“Democrats will supercharge investment in the Housing Trust Fund to greatly expand the number of affordable, accessible housing units on the market. We will expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit to incentivize private-sector construction of affordable housing, and make sure urban, suburban, and rural areas all benefit.”

“Democrats are committed to ending homelessness in America. Democrats commit to providing Section 8 housing support for every eligible family and will enact protections to keep landlords from discriminating against voucher recipients. Democrats support a housing-first approach to ending homelessness, because having a stable and safe place to live is essential to helping a person tackle any other challenges they may face, from mental illness to substance use disorders to post-traumatic stress disorder.”

“We will act swiftly to end homelessness among veterans and will enact strong protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth, especially Black, Latino, and Native American LGBTQ+ youth, who too often find themselves on the streets.”

Republican Platform

The 2020 Republican National Convention did not adopt a new platform. Instead, Republicans have re-adopted the 2016 platform, so it does not specifically address the current COVID-19 crisis or any of the Trump administration’s policies since his inauguration in 2017. The party platform includes incentives for homeownership and regulatory changes and for minimizing the federal role in zoning decisions.  Selected quotes from the 2016 Republican party platform include:

“More than six million households had to move from homeownership to renting. Rental costs escalated so that today nearly 12 million families spend more than 50 percent of their incomes just on rent. The national homeownership rate has sharply fallen and the rate for minority households and young adults has plummeted. So many remain unemployed or underemployed, and for the lucky ones with jobs, rising rents make it harder to save for a mortgage.”

“Our goal is to advance responsible homeownership while guarding against the abuses that led to the housing collapse. We must scale back the federal role in the housing market, promote responsibility on the part of borrowers and lenders, and avoid future taxpayer bailouts. Reforms should provide clear and prudent underwriting standards and guidelines on predatory lending and acceptable lending practices. Compliance with regulatory standards should constitute a legal safe harbor to guard against opportunistic litigation by trial lawyers.”

“Zoning decisions have always been, and must remain, under local control. The current Administration [referring in 2016 to the Obama administration] is trying to seize control of the zoning process through its Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulation. It threatens to undermine zoning laws in order to socially engineer every community in the country. While the federal government has a legitimate role in enforcing non-discrimination laws, this regulation has nothing to do with proven or alleged discrimination and everything to do with hostility to the self-government of citizens.”

The 2020 Democratic Party Platform is at: https://bit.ly/2El69Ff

The 2016 Republican Party Platform is at: https://bit.ly/2YwlvNU