It has been a long time since the federal government made a serious effort at urban renewal and development. The efforts that have been made, moreover, have been piecemeal and consequently have produced mixed results.
That's why I have joined with fellow former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros, Kent Colton, former president of the National Association of Home Builders, and Nicolas Retsinas, the director of Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies, to produce a book, "Opportunity and Progress: A Bipartisan Platform for National Housing Policy."
This project came together because we all agreed on the gravity of the nation's housing problem. Sure, homeownership is at an all-time high, and that is great news, but for those yet to own a home, particularly those on the bottom of the income ladder, there is much work yet to be done.
In our book, we put forth a set of recommendations that reflects our shared vision for a national housing policy. We wanted this policy to be not just bipartisan, but pragmatic, plausible and actionable - with the underlying rationale being that our nation's housing programs and policies should and must support individual access to opportunity. We understand that homeownership is the linchpin of the American Dream.
Home ownership allows Americans of even modest means to put down roots in the middle class. But, home ownership is more than that - it provides the keys to financial independence and wealth accumulation.
In our report, we outline in detail a 12-point agenda that includes programs to end chronic homelessness, revive public housing, increase the use of housing vouchers and eliminate bureaucratic hurdles to affordable housing, just to name a few. More specifically, we endorse the creation of a National Housing Trust Fund. We feel that the trust fund would help ameliorate the increasing burden of demand for low-cost rental housing outpacing supply in many markets across the country. The trust fund would be used to support the production, preservation and rehabilitation of 1.5 million affordable housing units over the next 10 years. At least 45 percent of the trust fund monies would be earmarked for housing affordable to extremely low-income households.
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