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Biden urged to press contrast with Trump on policies to help renters


Michael Lyle, Nevada Current
June 11, 2024

Democratic U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna of California, along with housing organizers, is urging President Joe Biden and other congressional candidates to make the housing crisis a top priority, especially in Nevada and other presidential battleground states. 

While the housing crisis isn’t new and addressing high rents has long been a priority for renters, recent polling in five battleground states, including Nevada, indicated it could energize voters this election. 

“I believe a comprehensive housing agenda that speaks to rents and the difficulty that people have in getting into homes and buying homes will help us mobilize the communities we need to win this election,” Khanna said. “It will also speak to an economic contrast with Donald Trump. He is the candidate of landlords and big real estate. Our candidate, President Biden, is the one who’s going to help renters and working families.” 

Khanna’s remarks were made last week during a virtual press conference organized by the Center for Popular Democracy and Right to the City Action to discuss the role housing will – and could – play in elections this year.

A new poll the groups commissioned from HIT Strategies showed renters want candidates to talk about how they will address the housing crisis. 

Joshua Doss, a senior research manager at HIT Strategies, said the results showed “Trump is significantly less popular” among renters in battleground states. Yet, homeowners, a demographic he has higher favorability with, are more enthusiastic about voting, Doss said. 

Homeowners historically vote more heavily than renters

The poll surveyed 500 voters in each battleground state: Nevada, Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. The survey was weighted to get a larger representation of renters and voters aged 18 to 35.  

“As is the case with younger voters in general, (renters) are significantly less enthusiastic about the upcoming election, with only about 60% saying they would vote versus almost 80% of homeowners,” saying they will vote, he said. 

Despite the high cost of housing at the top of mind for many voters, the responses showed it’s hardly being talked about compared to abortion access and immigration. 

“There is a massive gap between how high of a priority the cost of rent and housing is to voters and how much they are saying they are hearing about it from the politicians in their orbit,” Doss said. “This is especially true for renters.”

Housing policy hasn’t typically been the focal point in previous election years. Even if candidates had policy positions, questions around housing weren’t common during the Democratic presidential candidate debates in 2019.

The recent poll showed that if candidates mobilized a group “who already lean Biden on favorability,” it would mean they could energize “a group that is more racially diverse and younger,” Doss said.

Biden has made moves to address the housing crisis. 

In March, he traveled to Southern Nevada to announce his Fiscal Year 2025 budget request included calling for $258 billion in housing investments, which includes expanding rental assistance for low-income families, and direct $20 billion for an “innovation fund for housing expansion” to support construction of affordable multifamily units.

Biden’s proposals have received praise from national housing groups such as the National Low Income Housing Coalition. By comparison, the group was critical of Trump’s housing policies during his term, including a proposal to cut housing benefits, eliminate the national Housing Trust Fund and slash funds for tenant-based rental assistance.

Voters who were polled also want to see candidates “championing progressive solutions” like rent stabilization and support for housing choice vouchers, Doss said.  

Analilia Mejia, the co-executive director at the Center for Popular Democracy, said that while the polling only “provides a glimpse to the angst, the anxiety” renters feel, the results further confirm what organizers with the group have seen and heard when they knock on doors and engage with voters.

She added that less than six months out from “an uncomfortably close election” the polls show that if candidates bring the housing affordability crisis faced by renters to the forefront, it could sway voters. 

“President Biden not only has a moral imperative to address the concerns of every single community demographic and voting bloc across this nation, but there is now a political imperative to make sure we address the concerns of the many,” Mejia said. 

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This article is republished from Nevada Current under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.