Everyone should have stable, safe, and affordable housing.
As the daughter of a public school teacher who spent her childhood in inner city Dallas before moving to a rural working class Texas town, and as someone who experienced being un-housed herself as a teenager, Julie has first-hand, lived, deep experience in an area of public policy that affects every person in Texas and across the country today.
For most people, housing is our largest single expense. For the average American, paying rent or keeping up with a mortgage payment consumes nearly a third of their income, and for those who are working-class, middle-class, and the working poor, the amount of money we spend on shelter accounts for half of our pay. And there are twenty-one million American families – over a sixth of the United States – who are paying more for rent than they can afford, which means they are at a high risk of homelessness.
This affects all of us -- and the way we address this problem at scale and in a meaningful way is not by half measures or criminalizing poverty.
In America, it is a moral outrage that any of our fellow Americans should have to experience homelessness. Julie understands that higher wages, lower rents, and ending mass incarceration all play a role in addressing the collective societal failure of homelessness, specifically, and housing affordability generally.
But we have to go to the root of the issue.
The way we address the systemic problem with housing affordability is by spending real money to build new housing. That is how we have the deepest impact. And the way we unwind the inequities in the system are by 1) cracking down on institutional investors’ ability to buy single-family homes backed by the federal government; 2) funding the construction of more private affordable housing for extremely low-income households; 3) combatting exclusionary zoning that racially and economically segregates communities; and 4) addressing decades of racism in federal housing policy.
And that is exactly what Julie is committed to doing in Congress.
So how did we get here? The housing affordability crisis in America has grown so multifaceted and vast because for decades politicians have failed to pay it sufficient attention, particularly in Congress, due to a misconception that this was solely a local issue, or solely a city issue.
It isn’t. Because housing is fundamental to our lives, it sits at the intersection of nearly every area of policy. And the national shortage of affordable, stable, and safe homes extends far beyond metropolitan areas into rural Texas.
And as housing costs in Austin and across Texas have skyrocketed, those in power at the state level have continued to reward the real estate industry, corporate landlords, and multinational corporations with massive tax breaks, while families are forced to move further and further away from schools, the neighborhoods they call home, and from job opportunities that might otherwise spur growth.
To put this in perspective with an example from our district, the average cost of a two bedroom home in the Pecan Springs or Springdale neighborhoods -- which are traditionally Black and Latino, working class neighborhoods in central East Austin -- is now $325,400. But that is far, far out of reach for people who already live in the Springdale and Pecan Springs neighborhoods -- where the typical household earns $31,317.
The average renter makes 35 percent less than the national median family income and holds almost no savings. And as developers continue to build fancier new units targeted at higher-income families rather than units targeted at lower-income families, rents continue to rise, forcing longtime residents out, driving up costs for everyone.
That’s why Julie supports the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act. It makes historic federal investments to increase housing supply across the country, in rural, suburban and urban America; it reduces rental costs by 10% over the next 10 years; and as part of the investment in building millions of new homes, it would create 1.5 million new jobs and spur huge economic growth.
By incentivizing states and cities to eliminate racially exclusionary zoning laws, we can focus on increasing homeownership rates for low-income families of color. As part of an ambitious, aspirational housing policy, we can immediately approach this issue by lowering the cost of developing housing by increasing the supply of affordable housing with billions of federal dollars into programs that subsidize developments in rural, low-income, and middle-income communities, and we can strip away the zoning laws that made developing housing so expensive in the first place, and which often keep low-income people from being able to move to wealthier neighborhoods. That brings down costs for everyone.
In Congress, Julie intends to make the fight to increase affordable housing, safeguarding against predatory lending, preventing corporate landlords and property owners from exploiting renters with impunity, and making it easier for young adults to own a home top priorities.
You can count on Julie to fight for a housing justice more than any other candidate, because she doesn’t accept money from real estate PACs, big banks, or any of the special interests who profit from exacerbating inequality in housing. In fact, Julie doesn't take a single dime from any PAC.
The lack of affordable, stable, and safe housing threatens the freedom, safety and well-being of every American. And because our homes are such fundamental parts of our experience as human beings, housing policy sits at the intersection of so many issues that will profoundly impact our lives today and into the future. It is time to ensure that everyone in America has a safe and affordable place to live.
In Congress, Julie is committed to:
- 1. Passing the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act of 2019 (H.R. 1737), which would fund the construction of more private affordable housing for extremely low-income households, combat exclusionary zoning that racially and economically segregates communities, and address decades of racism in federal housing policy.
- 2. Cracking down on institutional investors’ and massive private equity firms’ ability to buy single-family homes backed by the federal government.
- 3. Building millions of homes over ten years to uplift millions of struggling families, significantly lower rental costs across the country, and provide housing for every homeless or housing insecure person in America.
- 4. Repealing the Faircloth Amendment, which bans the Department of Housing and Urban Development from funding the construction or operation of new public housing units, so we can allow the US government to build or acquire new public housing.
- 5. Investing in down-payment assistance for first-time home owners, which would help buyers start to build wealth themselves through home ownership in low-income communities of color that have been locked out of home ownership and the building of generational wealth by racist housing policy.
- 6. Increasing investment in Community Land Trusts, which would allow housing dollars to provide unique benefit to struggling communities in rural Texas, to mobile home communities, as well as historically Black, displacement-prone communities in Texas.
- 7. Providing explicit relief to renters and tenants by providing incentive funds to communities with renter protections, and making every effort to stop states from preempting local efforts to enact tenant protection laws.
- 8. Ending tax privileges that incentivize speculation in the rental market by large corporate landlords that inflate or deflate their property value according to their interests -- like the Trump Organization.
- 9. Prohibiting housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, veteran status, or income source -- like housing vouchers.
- 10. Working to end so-called Real Estate Owned mortgages, which since the Great Recession have allowed private equity speculators to abuse the system, driving rents, and with them the number of evictions, ever higher.
- 11. Lowering the estate tax rate threshold on fortunes under $7 million so that so that the ultra-wealthy pay a larger share, which would help fully cover the cost of making historic investments in increasing federal housing supply and help decrease rents by 10% for millions of people.
- 12. Increasing rent stabilization, banning no-cause evictions, and advocating for the right to counsel for renters.