Biden proposes $640B housing plan

 Biden proposes $640B housing plan
© Greg Nash

Democratic presidential candidate Joe BidenJoe BidenNAACP seeks to boost Black voter turnout in six states Biden touts Trump saying Harris would be 'fine choice' for VP pick Kamala Harris: The conventional (and predictable) pick all along MORE unveiled a $640 billion housing plan on Monday that the former vice president's campaign said will improve affordability and establish a Homeowner and Renter Bill of Rights.

Biden’s proposal lays out six “Biden principles for housing": affordability, stability, safety/health, accessibility, energy efficiency/resilience and proximity to good schools and jobs.

The proposed bill of rights, modeled on similar legislation that passed in California, would bar mortgage servicers from foreclosing while homeowners are modifying loans and establish a right to timely notifications of loan modification status for borrowers.

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The plan would also strengthen eviction protections, with Biden pledging to enact legislation sponsored by House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetKamala Harris makes history — as a Westerner Expanding our health force can save lives and create jobs simultaneously How Congress is preventing a Medicare bankruptcy during COVID-19 MORE (D-Colo.) that provides legal assistance to tenants facing eviction. Biden “also will encourage localities to create eviction diversion programs, including mediation, payment plans, and financial literacy education programs,” his campaign said.

Biden also pledges to fight discrimination in housing by taking action against exclusionary zoning, or the use of zoning ordinances to prevent certain land uses. Biden pledged to require any state receiving community development block grants to develop inclusionary zoning plans if he is elected.

He further pledged to address discriminatory practices by financial institutions by expanding upon 2013 legislation enacted by the Obama administration.

“[I]n 2013, the Obama-Biden Administration codified a long-standing, court-supported view that lending practices that have a discriminatory effect can be challenged even if discrimination was not explicit,” the plan states. “But now the Trump Administration is seeking to gut this disparate impact standard by significantly increasing the burden of proof for those claiming discrimination. In the Biden Administration, this change will be reversed to ensure financial institutions are held accountable for serving all customers.”

Biden also pledges to take further action reversing other Trump administration steps on housing policy, such as its 2018 suspension of the Obama administration’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule, which required communities to address discriminatory housing patterns to receive certain federal funds.

The plan's release comes ahead of the South Carolina primary, the first contest with a large portion of African American voters. It also precedes Super Tuesday voting in California, which is in the midst of a housing and homelessness crisis.