Universal Housing

Housing is a basic need, just as food, education and healthcare are, and should be a human right. We can only reach our full potential with access to quality housing.

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Principles of Universal Housing


Universal Eligibility

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.


Housing units must be energy efficient and built and maintained in an environmentally sustainable manner.


All housing must be accessible to those with disabilities.


This is long term- including life-long- housing.

Universal Housing

After the foreclosure crisis and resulting economic crisis of 2008, large swaths of the American population drew what was by some considered a radical interpretation of events: In a mad pursuit of profits, large corporations,from finance capital institutions to developers, actively manipulate access to housing. Corporate greed has so distorted the market that in the midst of an unprecedented development boom, a shrinking number of people have access to quality housing they can afford.

Housing is a basic need, just as food, education and healthcare, and should be a human right. We can only reach our full potential with access to quality housing. Even the ability to enjoy the benefits of other basic needs- prepare food, advance education through study and recover from healthcare treatment- is predicated upon the availability of housing.

As such, the same logic that led so many to support the idea of universal healthcare will inevitably lead people to support the idea of universal housing.

How to Achieve Universal Housing

The realization of universal housing in the U.S. requires bold action in three major areas:

  • First, major shifts in ​housing policy​ must be implemented in order to dramatically increase the stock of housing affordable to low and middle income earners.
  • Second, in order to minimize the ability of finance capital to manipulate the housing stock, investment in housing- particularly speculative housing and derivative markets- there must be some ​regulation of finance capital​.
  • And third, corporations and industries that spur gentrification, such as the tech industry, must bear ​corporate responsibility​ for the human impact of their social footprint.

Universal Housing Policy

Because the US government lacks a coherent housing policy intended to house low and middle income people,there is currently a crisis of low-income and affordable housing throughout most of the country.The housing crisis cannot be solved either by the market or by a hodge-podge of coincidences and unintended consequences that lead to a massive surplus of affordable housing.

Therefore, there must be a policy explicitly designed to extend universal access to quality housing affordable by every income strata.

Such a housing policy must be inclusive of at least the following housing areas:

  • Cooperative ownership​. Coops and Community Land Trusts (CLT) are playing a growing role in the solution to the housing crisis. Because these corporate structures are collectively controlled and not focused on profit, the implementation of Coops and CLTs increase the pool of ‘homeowners’ and reduce the costs of housing because there is no profit motive. As community support for these alternative institutions grow, so must government support through programs and finance options.
  • Individual homeownership​. Programs that support owner occupied long term individual homeownership should be supported as a means of reducing housing costs over the course of generations.
  • Renter’s rights​. From rent control to just cause evictions, the rights of renters must be strengthened and protected so that affordable housing remains on the market and of use to long term tenants.
    • Criminalize slums​. If it is criminal to house house pets in dangerous conditions, it should be the same for human beings. Local governments should be empowered to make repairs on slums and then lien the property for the value of the repairs, plus penalties, and confiscate the property if the lien is not paid.
    • First right of purchase​. Renters should have the right to purchase homes and apartment buildings for sale, with financing support available.
  • Public/social housing​. In addition to universal healthcare, most of the developed world has a healthy social housing market. Social housing can be government owned or owned by neighborhood associations or non-profits. In some cities the majority of housing is social, keeping general prices down and eliminating the stigma associated with subsidized housing in the US.
  • Homelessness​. The solution to the problem of homelessness is deceptively simple: provide housing to those without. Once the problem of homelessness is solved, housing security serves as the basis for the delivery of a broad range of services, from addiction treatment to mental health counseling to job training and placement.

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.

Corporate Responsibility

When certain industries and corporations come into a municipality, they can have a major social footprint. As a consequence of increased traffic, more pollution, additional power lines or other socialized utilities,municipalities often demand that companies behave like good neighbors and bear some corporate responsibility for their impact and for the benefits that they derive from the community the enter.

Certain industries and corporations have a major impact on the affordability of the local housing stock and should exercise corporate responsibility in that area as well.

  • Incremental tax captures​. Corporations that trigger gentrification should be able to pay additional taxes based on their own distortion of local markets.
  • Offset requirements​. Corporations often must bear the costs of increased traffic by paying for road widening. The same corporations can also pay for housing that remains in the hands of a community land trust and intended for residents who lived there prior to the corporate take-over.