POLITICS

Cory Booker Announces Housing Affordability Plan To Protect Renters

The 2020 presidential candidate's proposal includes a tax credit to ensure tenants don't pay more than 30% of their income on rent.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) on Wednesday released a proposal to make housing more affordable by introducing a tax credit that would cap the amount Americans pay for rent at 30% of their income.

The 2020 Democratic presidential candidate’s campaign said Wednesday the credit could benefit as many as 57 million people, including nearly 17 million children, and help lift some 9.4 million Americans out of poverty.

“Access to safe, affordable housing can be transformative in the trajectory of people’s lives,” Booker said in a statement. “Making sure all Americans have the right to good housing is very personal to me. I’m determined to tear down the barriers that stand in the way of every American being able to do for their families what my parents did for mine.”

The announcement comes just weeks before candidates are expected to gather for the first Democratic debate of the 2020 cycle. 

Booker, who has been garnering around 2% in Democratic primary polls, aimed to highlight his tenure as mayor of Newark from 2006 to 2013, during which time his administration took steps to increase affordable housing. Booker also worked as a tenants’ lawyer after graduating from law school and moved into a public housing complex in Newark known as Brick Towers. In his campaign announcement video, the candidate noted he is “the only senator who goes home to a low-income, inner-city community.”

Under Booker’s housing plan, renters would be eligible for a tax credit that would cover the difference between 30 percent of their income and their neighborhood’s fair-market rent.

There would be no income cap limiting who could qualify, and the median credit for a participating family would be $4,800 per year. Booker’s campaign estimated the credit would cost $134 billion annually, which it said would be funded in part by restoring some taxes cut by Republicans in 2017.

In addition to the tax credit, Booker’s housing plan proposes new funding to help lower-income tenants facing eviction get access to counsel. It also includes reforms to zoning laws, proposals to build affordable housing units and funding for grants aimed at tackling homelessness, among other measures.

Other Democratic candidates have introduced their own housing proposals, as the primaries heat up. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has suggested a similar renters’ tax credit for those who make less than $125,000 a year. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) proposed investing nearly $450 billion to build affordable rental units and giving black families, who historically experience discrimination in accessing housing, assistance with down payments.

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