When they leave Iowa will they listen to us?

In the current issue of City Limits, Jarrett Murphy had a wonderful article “Housing 300 Million Well: What do Candidates Propose?“. The subtitle explains the article “In New York City and around the country, citizens have plenty of housing concerns. What solutions are the presidential candidates offering?”

With less than five weeks to go until the New Jersey Presidential Primary the questions raised in this article are very relevant. This is a must read. To read the full article click here.

This is the first few paragraphs:

The person inaugurated president in 386 days will have troubles aplenty – the Iraq war, terrorism, global warming and the deficit – but one thing he or she won’t have to worry about is housing. Taxpayers foot the bill for a four-story Georgian-style mansion with off-street parking and a rose garden.

For millions of the president’s constituents, however – from urban residents squeezed by unaffordable rents to suburbanites hit by the subprime mortgage crisis – housing is a major, daily concern, albeit one that has attracted relatively little attention in the months of campaigning and dozens of debates that have preceded this week’s pivotal Iowa caucuses.

War and terrorism were bound to loom large in the 2008 race, but even among domestic issues, housing has gotten short shrift. In the most recent New York Times/CBS News presidential poll, for example, voters were asked to rank seven issues in order of importance. It turned out that five were domestic issues, but housing problems weren’t even among the options, despite their broad impact. “A third of Americans [households comprising about 105 million people] are paying more than they can afford for housing. Compare that to health insurance,” says Occidental College politics professor Peter Dreier, who has written about the role of domestic policy in this campaign. “Something like 45 million Americans lack medical coverage – and that’s, like, a big scandal.”

The woes of subprime debtors – and the banks and investment houses who bet on them – forced housing onto the national radar screen in the closing weeks of the Iowa campaign. But foreclosures represent just one piece of a mosaic of housing worries. Hoping to learn more about what the key housing issues are and what the candidates propose to do about them, City Limits contacted roughly three dozen New York City housing advocates, analysts, developers, designers and policymakers to see what they wanted to learn from the candidates.

Then we shaped these queries into a survey and gave it to all 17 campaigns active in Iowa. Yes, even Alan Keyes got one.

Unfortunately, the candidates seemed to be too busy hunting pheasants and eating corndogs along the campaign trail to respond. But the questions we collected reveal much about the breadth and character of the housing problem. And in gathering them, City Limits learned a little about what the candidates have said and done – and not said or done – on some of the key issues. It turns out several have said a lot, and a few even have records to point to, or defend.

So, as Iowans get ready to declare their preferences, here are some of the questions New York’s housing community wants to ask the people vying to occupy the public housing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and an overview of some of the answers.

To read the full article click here.

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