Beto O’Rourke Unveils Plan to Boost Homeownership

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke speaks in Phoenix, Ariz., on Oct. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Jonathan Cooper)

(CN) – Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke shifted his focus Friday to fixing the nation’s housing system, promising to undo Trump administration efforts to weaken tenants’ rights and make major investments to increase affordable housing with a goal of building 6 million new homes.

O’Rourke’s latest policy proposal calls for a $400 billion investment in the National Housing Trust Fund to create 3 million homes in all 50 states over 10 years. He would also pour $60 billion in investments to the Capital Magnet Fund to create an additional 3 million homes, and leverage $50 billion to rehabilitate public housing.

The plan was previewed by the former El Paso congressman last month during a campaign stop in Los Angeles’ Skid Row, where he criticized President Donald Trump’s approach to homelessness in the city. O’Rourke said Friday that his housing plan, which focuses heavily on millennials and minority communities, was formed partly by his visit to Skid Row and a downtown Los Angeles homeless shelter.

“Housing is a basic human right,” he said. “The wealthiest, the most powerful country on the face of the planet has the resources necessary to increase access to housing while working to effectively end homelessness across America, and under my administration, we will.”

Under O’Rourke’s plan, he would see through the creation of “kickstart savings accounts,” a government-sponsored initiative offering a 2-1 match to help people making less than 400% of the federal poverty line save for a down payment, and ultimately buy a home.

He would also reverse a Trump administration decision making so-called Dreamers ineligible for Federal Housing Administration loans and strengthen the ability of the federal government to combat housing discrimination and segregation, which he says has been deliberately weakened by Trump.

The Texas Democrat’s plan also offers a revamp of the credit reporting system by setting up a public credit reporting agency that his campaign says would minimize racial disparities.

O’Rourke’s approach to the housing crisis is the latest set of policy reforms he has released since he grabbed headlines at last month’s debate with his controversial proposal for a mandatory buyback program for assault weapons. He has also unveiled in the last month broad plans to address women’s equality and voting rights, and called for Trump’s impeachment.

The housing plan was released a day after O’Rourke joined other 2020 Democrats for the Human Rights Campaign’s Power of Our Pride Town Hall, where he again drew conservative ire by vowing to revoke the tax-exempt status of churches that oppose same-sex marriage.

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