The Real Estate of the Union: Will Housing be a Major Factor in the 2020 Presidential Election?
While housing has not been a major factor in past presidential elections, it appears that more and more presidential candidates are addressing the rising cost of owning or renting a home. In fact, at least 16 of the Democratic candidates have mentioned affordable housing in their platforms, and four have specifically released policy proposals. And President Trump has mentioned his administration’s efforts to reform the housing finance system.
What does housing and real estate in general have to do with politics?
Regardless of one’s political leanings, housing is a topic that affects us all. Many of us face challenges in meeting housing costs, whether it is renting or owning a property, because it has become more and more difficult for people to find affordable housing. Some factors that cause this issue is that wages have stagnated and building costs have increased; thus, leading the number of Americans burdened by housing costs increasing by almost 14 million in the last 30 years, and almost half of renters now pay more than half of their income on rent.
Some political pundits claim that Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign missed an opportunity on focusing on housing, and the 2020 presidential candidates have the tremendous opportunity to not only address housing issues but also engage a whole new class of voters by discussing potential housing solutions.
Whether one is swayed by presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren’s American Housing and Economic Mobility Act which purportedly aims to reduce rents by 10% and invest $500 billion over the next ten years for the construction of affordable housing units, or by President Trump’s efforts to reform the housing finance system and the regulations of mortgage giants Fannie and Freddie, it is interesting that housing may just be one of the questions raised during the Presidential debates.
Pay for College or Buy a House?
Over the past decade, with the cost of college skyrocketing, increasing eight times faster than wages, millennials have confronted a serious dilemma: pay off student loans or buy a home. Nowadays, accomplishing both has become an incredibly difficult task. And it’s this very decision that will not only play a crucial role in the 2020 presidential election, but also influence how housing shapes the election as well. Considering that the youngest Americans – millennials and Generation Z – will compose 37% of the electorate in 2020, it’s clear these two generations will have the chance to show their political support for candidates able to address this pressing conundrum. Whether through advocating for Elizabeth Warren’s student loan debt forgiveness or endorsing President Trump’s capped monthly payment plan, the way these candidates mitigate the effects of a $1.5 trillion debt crisis, will shape the path for allowing these generations to have access to affordable housing.
The need to educate
While voters may understand and even feel the lack of affordable housing, not everyone understands housing finance such as mortgage lending or why housing would be a talking point on the campaign trail. The economy is affected by increased mortgage rates which impact all voters. There is a real need for the presidential candidates to first educate their base about the mechanics of housing finance in order to appeal to a broader base.
Housing and Beyond
Regardless of the candidate, it is compelling that housing is an issue that all of the candidates will have to confront. Simply put, in this land of tremendous opportunity, we must have affordable housing.
From the Trenches,