The Campaign Trail Silence on Affordable Housing


| 1/14/2008 10:27:21 AM


Tags: affordable housing, presidential election, social policy, candidates’ positions on housing, City Limits,

Which presidential candidate has the best plan for dealing with the affordable-housing crisis?

It’s a tough question, mostly because there’s so little information available to base an answer on. Section 8 vouchers and new development set-asides haven’t exactly been prominent themes on the campaign stump. Writing for City Limits Weekly, an electronic newsletter from City Limits—the bastion of housing coverage—and their affiliated think tank Center for an Urban Future, Jarrett Murphy argues that they should be:

War and terrorism were bound to loom large in the 2008 race, but even among domestic issues, housing has gotten short shrift. In the most recent New York Times/CBS News presidential poll, for example, voters were asked to rank seven issues in order of importance. It turned out that five were domestic issues, but housing problems weren't even among the options, despite their broad impact. "A third of Americans [households comprising about 105 million people] are paying more than they can afford for housing. Compare that to health insurance," says Occidental College politics professor Peter Dreier, who has written about the role of domestic policy in this campaign. "Something like 45 million Americans lack medical coverage – and that's, like, a big scandal." 

City Limits contacted a variety of housing experts and stakeholders and put together a survey of questions, which it then sent to each of the campaigns. It didn’t get any responses. So Murphy cobbled together the candidates’ perspectives by gleaning information from their past statements and records on some of the major housing issues.

The piece makes for a slightly wonkier read than, say, a transcript of candidates arguing about who represents real “change.” But it’s fairly important to understand the candidates’ ideas and views on a situation that finds an enormous number of Americans in an utterly vulnerable position.

Steve Thorngate