Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

June 3, 2016

Trump, Sanders and Housing Policy

By David Reiss


Donald Trump


Senator Sanders








I had earlier blogged about Hillary Clinton’s housing policy positions. Today, I turn to those of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.  Amazingly (or, perhaps, completely unsurprisingly), their housing policies present microcosms of their campaigns. Clinton came across as a well-prepared left of center policy wonk who was seeking to continue and perhaps expand a bit on Obama’s housing policy legacy.

In contrast, Trump has nothing of substance to say about housing policy on his campaign website.

Sanders, on the other hand, has a lot to say. He presents a very expensive laundry list of program expansions that would help low- and moderate-income address the cost of housing, but does not indicate how they would be funded. Here are some more details.


Trump has a very skeletal Positions page on his campaign website, listing just seven issues:

  1. Paying for the Wall
  2. Healthcare Reform
  3. U.S.-China Trade Reform
  4. Veterans Administration Reform
  5. Tax Reform
  6. Second Amendment Rights
  7. Immigration Reform

If you search the entire website, there are some passing mentions of housing, but even those are tangential to a housing policy platform (immigrants increase competition for housing, veterans get inadequate housing, the government spurred the housing bubble).


Sanders has a lengthy Affordable Housing platform, outlining ways to

  1. Expand Affordable Housing
  2. Promote Homeownership
  3. Help Underwater Homeowners
  4. Prevent Homelessness
  5. Get Lead out of Homes
  6. Address Housing and Environmental Justice

It struck me that nearly every one of the proposals involved an increase in funding, sometimes a dramatic one. His first proposal calls for a nearly thirty-fold increase in the funding for the National Housing Trust Fund from $174 million to $5 billion per year (the Obama Administration had asked Congress to provide $1 billion to capitalize the fund but Congress did not do so).

The Fund is currently being capitalized by contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as authorized by Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. For Sanders’ plan to work, he would either (1) need to get these contributions to be dramatically expanded, which would likely raise interest rates on all residential mortgages or (2) get Congress to provide the increased funding. Good luck with that.

I was also struck by the fact that Sanders’ platform did not propose much meaningful reform of the housing sector.  How about getting the federal government to incentivize local governments to build more housing, and affordable housing in particular?

From my review of the three campaign websites (and for the purposes of this post, on that basis alone!), I favor Clinton’s housing policy platform. It is thoughtful, constructive and realistic.

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