(CNSNews.com) – Democratic presidential candidate and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro unveiled his plan Wednesday to end homelessness by 2028.
Castro pledged to end veteran homelessness by the end of his first term, as well as ending child, family and youth homelessness by that same deadline. He plans to end “chronic homelessness by 2028.
Among other things, he proposes increasing funding for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants “by $5 billion, to $7.5 billion, tripling current spending.”
Castro specifically plans to end homelessness among college students through by expanding Pell grants “to cover non-tuition expenses for students, including food and housing.” He also wants to “expand McKinney-Vento support for housing-insecure students and encourage institutional assessments on basic needs instability.”
Castro also proposes establishing permanent supportive housing initiatives to provide healthcare and other services to individuals in need who are at risk of becoming homeless” and expanding local crisis response systems to provide healthcare and other services to individuals in need who are at risk of becoming homeless.” He plans to decriminalize homelessness and encourage local officials to end “loitering, vagrancy, and other discriminatory laws.”
Castro proposes working to “guarantee a right to counsel for tenants facing eviction through incentives for state and local governments to amend their laws.” His plan would also “combat homelessness for people with mental illness by expanding access to medical care, including mental health care, through universal healthcare coverage under an expanded Medicare program.”
He supports “rapid rehousing and case management programs that provide immediate, short-term wrap-around services in a comprehensive effort to reduce the amount of time an individual or family is between homes.”
He said he’ll work with Congress “to prohibit discrimination based on actual or perceived housing status in housing, voting, education, voter registration, interactions with law enforcement, and employment.” He also plans to “support local efforts to end exclusion of residents experiencing homelessness from public space.”
In addition to ending homelessness, Castro proposes making rent more affordable by combining “the traditional Housing Choice Voucher program that serves lower-income folks with a new renters’ tax credit to give relief to middle-income folks.”
“The vouchers will help to stabilize those who need to get their feet under them, and the tax credit will help to move renters into homeownership where they can create intergenerational wealth,” he added.
According to his campaign website, Castro’s plan will:
- Ensure every family that needs a voucher will receive one by transforming the program to a fully-funded entitlement program.
- Expand the housing choice voucher program to cover all families under 50 percent of area median income, providing a safety net for individuals who need assistance.
- Work with Congress to prohibit discrimination based on source of income, to protect individuals that use federal housing support or vouchers, state or local support, or other forms of government support.
- Expand access to the program by creating an exemption for eligible income based on student loan payments to ensure that income taken up by student loan debt does not disqualify families from eligibility.
- Ensure vouchers are priced to reflect market rents by fully implementing, increasing enforcement, and closely monitoring the Small Area Fair Market Rents Rule.
By creating a renter’s tax credit, Castro’s plan would support people “with income up to the area median income, prioritizing support for lower-income individuals.” It would “cover families between 50 percent and 100 percent of Area Median Income, would be paid monthly, and would, take into account the local Small Area Fair Market Rents designation.”
Participants would be allowed to direct the tax credit to “a tax-advantaged savings account to be used for a down payment on a mortgage.”
Castro supports construction of affordable housing units by increasing the Housing Trust Fund and the Capital Magnet Fund by at least $45 billion per year. He would also use the fund for “additional public housing construction for vulnerable communities including senior citizens.”
He plans lower “long-term costs in affordable and public housing by investing in durability, sustainability, and energy efficiency through an 8-year initiative to upgrade all public housing units with capital improvements, totaling $5 billion a year for ten years.”
Castro also wants to “expand the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) by $4 billion a year and reform it to better direct private investment in expanding the supply of affordable housing for low-income families, pilot local revolving loan funds to accelerate development timelines, and adapt and reform the program to accommodate its expansion.”
He proposes expanding housing protections for women by passing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
Furthermore, he plans to ensure fair housing for all Americans by extending non-discrimination protections for members of the LGBTQ community “in housing and employment through passing the Equality Act, which also combats discrimination against the LGBTQ community broadly.”
He plans to “reinstate and formalize the Gender Identity Rule to provide transgender and gender nonconforming people access to sex-segregated housing and shelter facilities on the basis of their gender identity.”
Castro plans to reverse the Trump administration’s “Public Charge Rule,” which prohibits “mixed-status” immigrant families from living in public housing.
He plans to “expand protections for homeowners residing in manufactured and mobile homes and actively prevent gentrification by working with state and local governments to improve oversight of rent increases and redevelopment that displaces families, supporting the renters in purchasing the land their homes reside on, addressing the effect of corporate practices that have displaced families in manufactured and mobile homes, and investigating the role of private equity and Real Estate Investment Trusts in displacing families and raising housing costs.”