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Potential Running Mates Amp Up Biden Housing Plan

As coronavirus continues to test the social and economic limits of the nation, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is attempting to reclaim headlines by releasing details about potential running mates. Biden has committed to selecting a female VP, a key point in his search criteria and  , a pledge made only three times in the last 50 years.

The role of the vice president, the nation’s second most powerful office, has evolved over time, morphing from consolation prize to a springboard to the Presidency. Biden has made the position all the more coveted by announcing that he would not seek a second term should his age or health not permit. His selection of a viable running mate will be critical to continuing his legacy. In the short term, it will be a thoroughly deliberated, strategic move to expand his base and address any regional or representational gaps in his electability.

As the women on Biden’s shortlist emerge, the rental housing industry must keep in mind how their backgrounds and policy positions will affect his potential Presidency and future housing strategy. Below is a summary of those individuals and their known housing policy positions.

Former Presidential Frontrunners
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
demonstrated widespread appeal to both urban and rural electorates, despite lagging performances during the democratic primaries. On housing, the senator’s platform highlighted her intention to eliminate the backlog of applicants for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program. Sen. Klobuchar also mentioned a stronger need for federal investment in affordable housing, alluding to her housing plan’s intention to increase funding for construction-based subsidies.  After receiving Klobuchar’s endorsement prior to a strong finish in her state’s Primary, Biden and his vetting team are seriously considering the Minnesota lawmaker as a running mate.

Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) traded jabs with Joe Biden frequently during the debates, actions clearly forgiven by Biden’s campaign as they demonstrate serious interest in freshman Senator from California. Harris, a former state attorney general, garnered huge popularity amongst young and minority voters in the early days of the campaign and has been named a top contender for vice president. Her campaign never had the opportunity to elaborate on its housing priorities, although Harris has  introduced legislation during her Senate tenure that would suggest where she stands on housing policy issues: establishing a renters tax credit and a proposal to increase the availability of housing for the formerly incarcerated. Both proposals closely aligns with Biden’s own campaign promises of creating a tax credit that would cover up to 70% of an individual’s rent and providing housing for 100 percent of the formerly incarcerated. However, both plans fail to demonstrate effective measures for increasing the development of housing.

Capitol Hill Fixtures
Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.)
is the first Latina senator in Congress and could help connect Biden to the young and Hispanic electorate that helped usher early primary victories for Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). In November, Cortez Masto co-sponsored the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act which would expand the number of Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) allocated to each state by 50 percent, thus increasing the number of affordable housing units that could be constructed. Biden’s housing policy offers up a $10 billion investment into the LIHTC program, aligning with Cortez Masto’s legislative history. Her state currently faces a shortage of 8,000 home annually.

Representative Val Demings (D-Fla.) has been viewed with keen interest by Biden and his campaign. The Florida Congresswoman represents a viable inroad into heavily contested Florida, where President Trump upset Hillary Clinton in 2016. Demings has also been a vocal critic of the misuse of Florida’s Sadowski Housing Trust Fund, which was established to support the construction of new affordable housing. Instead, lawmakers have utilized more than $2 billion in Sadowski funds over 15 years for purposes other than housing development. Biden has pledged to invest $20 billion into the federal Housing Trust Fund to help leverage private capital into affordable housing projects. Housing trust funds operating at all levels of government remain an important and valuable tool in reigning in housing affordability.

Emerging Party Leaders
Stacey Abrams took on the national spotlight in 2018 during her bid to be Georgia’s first black female governor. Since her narrow defeat in the state’s gubernatorial election, Abrams has become a figurehead in progressive circles, actively campaigning for the role of vice president. On housing, Abrams made the creation of a state housing trust fund the centerpiece of her gubernatorial housing platform. A five-term state representative from Eastern Atlanta, Abrams understands the importance of sustainable housing investment, especially in a city that will require 12,000 new housing units annually to keep up with demand.

The National Apartment Association will provide ongoing coverage of the 2020 Presidential Election Cycle, highlighting its importance to the multifamily industry. Stay tuned for more spotlights as November quickly approaches. For more information on the 2020 Presidential Election, please contact NAA Manager of Public Policy, Sam Gilboard.