Amy Klobuchar talks affordable housing in Iowa City

2020 Democratic hopeful and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said at an Iowa City forum that the federal government is currently not doing enough to address the inadequate amount of affordable and accessible housing.


Katie Goodale

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, addresses supporters at her affordable housing roundtable at Cross Park Place in Iowa City on July 26, 2019. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Julia Shanahan, Politics Editor

2020 Democratic hopeful Amy Klobuchar said the federal government is not doing enough to address the inadequate amount of affordable and accessible housing across the country — a day after she unveiled her affordable housing plan.

“We have seen this escalating [housing] crisis in Iowa City, and we’ve seen it all across the country,” the senator from Minnesota said at Cross Park Place in Iowa City on July 26.

Klobuchar unveiled an affordable housing plan on July 25 with the main goals of bridging the rural-urban gap and expanding housing opportunities to neglected communities.

Cross Park Place was built in 2018 as part of a FUSE-Housing First project that provides permanent, subsidized housing for chronically homeless individuals. The purpose of the facility is to save taxpayers money by preventing homeless people from going through a cycle of emergency services and medical care.

Iowa Sen. Claire Celsi, D-Des Moines, among the July 26 panelists, said that because she represents and lives in one of Iowa’s most densely urban districts, she sees the need to create more options for affordable housing. She has also heard disturbing language around affordable housing from members of her district, she said.

“Sen. Klobuchar’s remarks also touched on how federal housing policy really trickles down to the local level, and when we don’t have a strong housing policy, or one that doesn’t advocate for the ordinary working people, it can be a disaster for local communities that don’t have the resources to finish some of these projects,” Celsi said.

According to the 2017 U.S. Census report, approximately 150 Iowa towns have not seen new housing built since 2010.

There was concern among forum attendees about whether the Trump administration’s tax plan adequately addresses housing problems in the U.S. Klobuchar said the plan’s tax-credit system has had the reverse effect and actually made housing issues worse.

“If you had a true bipartisan bill, you would’ve brought the corporate tax rate down some, you would’ve used some money for infrastructure, you would’ve made sure housing was kept whole at least when we have these enormous needs,” Klobuchar said.

Here are some of the major elements of Klobuchar’s housing plan:

  • Her plan would expand access to legal assistance in combating discimination by landlords in regards to income, sexual orientation, gender identity, and veterans status.
  • The plan would work to expand rural outreach by improving programs offered to Native Americans and improve access to information about rural housing programs.
  • Klobuchar hopes the plan would increase access to affordable housing by investing in Housing Choice Vouchers, promoting effective zoning rules, giving renters access to emergency funds for rent, by supporting housing for people with disabilities, and promoting climate-change mitigation and resilience.
  • The plan would provide access to opportunity, meaning it would encourage mobility, expand the Low-Income Tax Credit, invest in homeless-aid grants, and help seniors age in place.
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