Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced an ambitious bill Tuesday that targets the growing problem facing millions of Americans: soaring rents and unaffordable home prices.
The American Housing and Economic Mobility Act of 2018 would spend roughly $500 billion over 10 years to build and rehabilitate affordable housing, with the cost offset by an increase in the estate tax back to George W. Bush-era levels and by a new tax that would affect roughly 10,000 of the wealthiest households.
The bill would also:
- expand the Department of Agriculture’s rural housing program,
- build 200,000 homes on Native American tribal lands,
- provide down payments to residents of racially segregated areas,
- promote the extension of credit in low-income areas,
- bolster anti-discrimination laws,
- incentivize local jurisdictions to ease zoning restrictions on new construction.
Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, analyzed the plan and found that it “would go a long way toward addressing [the U.S.’s] mounting housing crisis.” The increase in the estate tax would have virtually no negative effect on the economy, Zandi said, and the bill would be deficit neutral, with no effect on interest rates.
CityLab’s Andrew Small and Kriston Capps were blunt about the bill’s political prospects: “The bill itself doesn’t stand a chance: It would generate a half-trillion dollars for affordable housing subsidies by raising the estate tax.” But Madeleine Carlisle of The Atlantic said that it frames a key issue that affects millions of voters in a way that could help promote Warren’s brand of populist progressivism as the senator gears up for a presidential run in 2020.