Principles of Universal Housing
Every human being is eligible for universal housing regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality,immigration status, legal history, or income.
Housing is affordable for everyone at all times, with costs never exceeding 30% of household income regardless of income. Rent is adjusted during times of unemployment, sickness or other life circumstances.
Regulate Finance Capital
In the same way the profit motive distorts the market and reduces the availability of healthcare and medicines,the reckless pursuit of profit reduces the availability of affordable housing.
Because housing prices are established by supply and demand, the intentional manipulation of the housing stock can result in both reduced access to housing for people in need and, simultaneously, an increase in housing prices in a speculative market.
For example, in the aftermath of the 2008 foreclosure crisis, analysts predicted decades of depressed housing values due to a glut of vacant houses owned by banks, also known as Real Estate Owned or REO. But instead of attempting to sell these homes at low prices to families in need, in order to increase values over the long term,banks either withheld a significant portion of the REO from the market or simply demolished the house.
So, in a city where they may have been 100,000 foreclosed homes for sale and a downward pressure on prices,the market manipulation allowed only 10,000 foreclosed homes on the market, converting the glut into a housing shortage and causing upwards pressure on prices. While this practice resulted in increased profits for the financial institutions with excess REO, it was a disaster for families attempting to recover from the economic crisis and searching for housing they could afford.
Finance capital also plays a role in this process by funding projects that result in gentrification- the forced removal of low-income residents in order to replace them with higher income residents. Financing upgrades in housing that significantly increase the sales or rental prices, as opposed to projects that improve conditions without raising prices, also removes affordable housing from the market and allows speculators to financially benefit from the misery of lower income families.
In order to battle these problems, several actions directed towards financial institutions and other types of speculators must be implemented:
- End rent backed securities. This practice is closely tied to derivatives and promotes financial gambling where the asset is someone else’s home.
- Limit financial speculation on housing. Speculative behavior has some limits in the stock market but needs more robust limits in the housing market. These limits should be applied to rentals or projects with a significant impact on housing prices and should include significant luxury taxes.
- Declare housing a public good/public utility. This action will make it more difficult for developers or speculators to remove housing stock and manipulate supply and demand by allowing additional regulation to be placed on the utility.
- Penalize the finance of gentrification projects.
- Tiered property tax system. Properties already have tiered taxes, with lower rates assessed for homesteads and higher rates for commercial properties. An additional tier will penalize financial institutions that maintain vacant housing or demolish viable housing without immediately replacing the units.