Prior to six presidential hopefuls taking to the stage for a nationally televised debate in Des Moines, IA last week, more than 1,000 organizations, in partnership with NLIHC and the Polk County Housing Trust Fund, took out a full page ad for three days in the Des Moines Register calling on the debate moderators to ask about affordable housing and homelessness at the debate. Unfortunately, no question about affordable housing was asked at the debate, although Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) mentioned homelessness in both his opening and closing remarks.
Five of the six candidates who participated in the debate have released robust plans to address the lack of affordable housing in the U.S. Former Vice President Joe Biden is the only candidate who has not issued an affordable housing plan. The debate was a missed opportunity for the candidates to talk about their plans and to share with voters how they would address the housing crisis. Our Homes, Our Votes: 2020, NLIHC’s nonpartisan voter and candidate engagement project, tracks all the candidates’ affordable housing proposals.
The week before, Our Homes, Our Votes, Our Iowa hosted another presidential candidate, Representative John Delaney (D-MD), at the Des Moines “Undesign the Redline.” The exhibit, sponsored by the Polk County Housing Trust Fund, looks at the impact of redlining in Des Moines and across Iowa. Mr. Delaney took a tour of the exhibit and talked with Lauren Johnson, director of communications and community outreach for the Polk County Housing Trust Fund. He spoke about his campaign proposal to invest in affordable housing, saying “So I think one of the things we need to do is have a massive investment in affordable housing in this country…we can take in communities that have been chronically underinvested and ensure that they have high quality housing.”