CONCORD — Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bennet said if elected he would embark on an ambitious plan to build more affordable housing and change federal subsidies that benefit high-income households.
The Colorado U.S. senator presented a 15-point housing plan at the conclusion of a three-day visit to the first-in-the-nation primary state.
Bennet said too many Americans are being priced out of being able to afford a home.
"A home is a platform for stability and upward mobility in America but for too many families owning a home is out of reach and the high cost of paying rent has pushed them to a breaking point," Bennet said in a statement.
"As a former superintendent, I know how important it is for kids to have a stable home so they can show up to school ready to learn and succeed. Slogans like national rent control won’t solve the problem. We need to build more homes near good jobs and good schools and ensure people can actually afford them. That’s the bottom line for creating opportunity for all Americans."
More than a dozen Democratic rivals have made more visits to New Hampshire than Bennet who was last spring one of the last major hopefuls to enter the race.
While many of his rivals have unveiled many detailed plans, this is the first one Bennet has presented while campaigning in New Hampshire.
Bennet said the U.S. has a shortage of 7.2 million affordable homes and that nearly 40 million Americans are spending more than 30 percent on their income on rent or a mortgage.
"We need to overhaul our federal housing policy so that every American can afford a stable home in a thriving community," Bennet said in the plan.
He would support incentives to encourage community officials to eliminate exclusionary zoning laws that often block the building of affordable homes in desirable neighborhoods.
Bennet said the U.S. needs to do more support more development of mass transit as that would make housing more affordable to working families.
He would triple spending to $4.5 billion a year on the BUILD program (formerly TIGER grants) that New Hampshire has used to support infrastructure projects.
Bennett said communities where officials repeatedly blocked affordable, multi-family housing should be declared ineligible to receive these transportation grants.
He would create a one-time, $10 billion competitive program for local governments that show they have reduced barriers to affordable housing.
Another part of Bennet's plan would expand by 50 percent the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit that he said would create an additional, 500,000 affordable housing units over the next decade.
And Bennet would offer a $100 million demonstration grant aimed at getting developers to rethink the high cost of building housing with the goal of projects with a much lower cost per acre to complete.
At the close of the plan, Bennet said he would seek changes in tax incentives that encourage developers to build more housing for upper-income citizens because that rewards them with bigger tax breaks.