On Wednesday, one New Jersey senator released a new proposal that, according to his campaign, would make housing more affordable for tens of millions of Americans. Cory Booker's tax credit for renters would cap how much Americans pay on rent every year, and it would be open to people of all income levels.
"Access to safe, affordable housing can be transformative in the trajectory of people's lives," Booker said, according to CNN. "My parents knew this when they moved my brother and me to a New Jersey town with good public schools in the face of racial discrimination. The tenants I represented against slumlords when I first moved to Newark knew it too. So did my neighbors in Brick Towers."
Under Booker's proposal, no American would spend more than 30% of their income on rent payments. Booker would accomplish this not by placing limits on rents but, rather, by making all renters eligible for a tax credit that, if they did initially spend more than 30% of their income on rent during the year, would make up the difference. Renters of all incomes would qualify for the credit.
In total, Booker's plan would cost around $134 billion a year, Politico reports. Booker says that he would fund this, in part, by reinstating some of the taxes on high-income earners that Republicans repealed in 2017.
According to the California Budget and Policy Center, more than 20 million Americans currently pay over 30% of their income on rent. Booker says that if his plan is implemented, the median tax credit that renters would receive would be $4,800, according to Politico.
Booker isn't the only Democratic presidential candidate to roll out proposals to make housing more affordable. Sen. Kamala Harris proposed a monthly tax credit for all renters who make up to $125,000 a year, with the amount of the credit varying depending on the typical rent in a renter's neighborhood, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren has proposed over $400 billion to directly fund the construction of additional affordable housing.
In addition to offering renters a tax credit, Booker's plan would include incentives for local governments to eliminate zoning regulations that prohibit the construction of new housing, according to Politico. He would also create a national Eviction Right to Counsel Fund, which would offer legal resources to low-income tenants facing eviction, and increasing funding for the construction of housing units in rural areas.
Booker's proposal would amend the Fair Housing Act to clarify that it prevents discrimination based not only on race but on sexual orientation and gender identity as well, and end the practice of landlords blacklisting prospective renters for having gone to landlord-tenant court in the past.
“Making sure all Americans have the right to good housing is very personal to me," Booker said in a statement, according to CNN. "I’m determined to tear down the barriers that stand in the way of every American being able to do for their families what my parents did for mine.”