April 15, 2019

Housing Belongs in the 2020 Presidential Election

White House

In no state is there an adequate supply of affordable rental housing for the lowest income renters, and more than one in four renters spend upwards of half of their income on rent alone.[i]We are overdue for a greater national focus on housing, and voters are asking for it.

A recent national poll found that more than eight in 10 Americans believe ensuring housing affordability should be a “top national priority.” Housing has become a top issue with voters in state and local elections and is now poised – perhaps more than ever – to be a key topic in the 2020 presidential election. 

At Enterprise, we believe housing solutions should be a central focus of every presidential candidate’s campaign.

Mayors and Governors have been pursuing new housing solutions at the state and local level, but these efforts cannot reach the scale of critical federal investments. Federal government has an essential role to play in addressing the need for more affordable housing. Only by strengthening and expanding key federal programs and implementing new and innovative housing solutions in partnership with local leaders can we hope to help all families that are struggling to make ends meet because of the rising costs of housing or experiencing housing insecurity or even homelessness. 

The lead-up to the November 2020 election will be a critical time for advocates to promote the importance of affordable housing to all presidential candidates. President Donald Trump is running for re-election and is currently expected to secure the 2020 Republican presidential nomination. Leading up to the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee in July 2020, a large pool of Democratic candidates will be vying for the nomination to challenge the incumbent president. At time of this post, there are 18 major Democratic candidates and a handful of others who still might run. 

The current presidential candidates have shown varying levels of interest and expertise in affordable housing. Some of the candidates have already supported key federal legislation related to affordable housing, made affordable housing a priority through their prior or current leadership, and/or mentioned it in their campaigns.

Most recently, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) reintroduced the Rent Relief Act, which would create a new, refundable tax credit for renters whose housing costs exceed 30 percent of their income, and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) reintroduced the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, which proposes a range of measures to address the nation’s affordable housing crisis and to “reverse the legacy of housing discrimination.”

About Enterprise’s 2020 Election Work and How to Get Engaged 

Leading up to November 2020, Enterprise’s policy team will inform and engage presidential candidates across the political spectrum on the housing needs of everyday Americans, especially low-income renters. And, we will soon share resources for our national network to engage presidential candidates with their local housing issues along the campaign trail.

Between now and November 2020, we will keep you up-to-date on the role of housing in 2020 presidential campaigns, including highlighting new housing proposals by presidential candidates and key opportunities for state and local advocates to engage. 

Stay informed on 2020 election developments by subscribing to our daily Community Developments policy newsletter and our bi-weekly Capitol Express newsletter, which provides more in-depth updates on federal policy. 


[i] National Low Income Housing Coalition. (2019). The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Rental Homes. Retrieved from https://reports.nlihc.org/gap.

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