Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has unveiled a plan called "Housing for All," and describes it as a fundamental American right -- like healthcare.
The Vermont senator's plan calls for a $1.5 trillion investment -- over the first 10 years of a Sanders administration -- to the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund for rehabilitation of existing affordable housing. The plan also aims for a $400 billion investment to build 2 million mixed-income social housing units.
Millions of affordable new apartments and homes would be built nationwide, under the plan, which notes that nearly half of Americans affected by housing shortages are seniors or persons with disabilities.
"In America today, over 18 million families are paying more than 50 percent of their income on housing, while last year alone the five largest banks on Wall Street made a record-breaking $111 billion in profits," the plan states. "How are families in America supposed to pay for food, transportation, health care, prescription drugs, education and childcare when over half of their income is going to pay the rent or the mortgage?"
Sanders said President Donald Trump's administration wants to exacerbate the problem by cutting federal housing programs by 18 percent. He also accused Trump of encouraging gentrification by signing tax legislation that benefits wealthy real estate developers.
An estimated 1.6 million people are presently on a waiting list for public housing, Sanders said. Additionally, 10,000 public units are demolished each year because they are in such poor condition.
Sanders' plan proposes investing $70 million in public housing and modernizing every unit for high-speed broadband Internet access. The proposal also includes rent controls and increased funding for subsidized, or "Section 8," housing.
"We need to fully fund the Section 8 rental assistance program to make sure that every person in America who is eligible for this program is able to get it without being put on a waiting list," Sanders said.
The plan also proposes new housing units for the homeless and $500 million for state and loval case management and social services.