Sheila Crowley, NLIHC’s President and CEO, writes on Huffington Post today about what she hopes to hear from President Obama during his speech on jobs tomorrow.
As a nation, we find ourselves at a difficult place economically, but also face a different kind of pain. Foreclosure, unemployment, and a slow-as-molasses recovery have made uncertainty the norm. The widening gap between the richest and the rest of us puts a question mark at the end of the American dream.
Americans need better. In her post, Ms. Crowley writes that, “people who merely are looking for more tax cuts are missing the opportunity this moment offers to rally Americans around a bold vision of what our country can be.” She writes about what that vision should include, and it’s easy to support: state-of-the-art public schools. Efficient public utilities. Safe neighborhoods that truly serve their residents. And, of course, “every single, last person in the United States, including the very poorest, has a decent, stable home in a welcoming community.”
Simple ideas, but they all come at a cost of resources and, perhaps most expensive of all, will. Do our elected leaders have the will to enact such a bold vision? Do they have the will to stand up to the forces of inequality? Can they step back far enough from deficit reduction promises to give themselves room to take a balanced approach?
We have our own idea of what a balanced approach will mean for housing policy: Housing policy must focus on providing safe, decent, affordable housing to those most in need, irrespective of tenure or choice. This requires a serious re-examination of the tax expenditures- namely, the mortgage interest deduction- that subsidize home ownership to the tune of $210 billion a year; and an increased investment in programs to provide stable and affordable rental housing to those for whom market rent is too high and home ownership is not an option.
We will see tomorrow what President Obama proposes. The coming months will be a test of will on all sides. One thing is certain: housing advocates will continue to press for an end to homelessness in the United States.