Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Podcast on short-term rental regulation (featuring me!)

I recently appeared on a podcast regarding short-term rentals at the C. Boyden Gray Center at GMU Scalia Law School.  You can listen to it here.  More about the podcast below...

Conversations about “the administrative state” usually focus on federal regulators, but for many upstart tech companies, local regulation often presents the most significant challenges. Uber and Lyft, for example, famously collided with local taxicab regulations. And “short-term rental” companies like AirBNB have faced countless regulations from countless regulators.

That is the subject of a new Gray Center Working Paper by Professor Jordan Carr Peterson (North Carolina State). In “Zoning for Disruption,” he finds that AirBNB’s arrival in a city can trigger significant regulatory responses not spurred by less-famous short-term rental companies. He describes that dynamic, and the wide range of regulations at issue.

To discuss his paper, and broader issues of regulation and short-term rentals, Adam White and Professor Peterson are joined by the University of Idaho’s Professor Stephen Miller and AirBNB’s former Head of Policy Strategy, David Owen.

September 16, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Call for Panelists: AALS Section on Real Estate Transactions and Section on Academic Support: The Changing Architecture of Legal Education:  Real Estate Transactions as a Case Study

AALS Section on Real Estate Transactions and Section on Academic Support

The Changing Architecture of Legal Education: 

Real Estate Transactions as a Case Study

Seeking Panelists:

What real property law courses should law schools be teaching?

Who should be teaching these courses?

How should the courses be taught?

The Section on Real Estate Transactions and the Section on Academic Support seek to explore these questions and related issues at their joint online session during the 2021 AALS Annual Meeting, The Changing Architecture of Approaches to Legal Education: Real Estate Transactions as a Case Study.

Members of the legal academic community are invited to submit statements of interest in joining the panel of presenters who will discuss the following in the context of real property law and related courses (mortgage finance, securitization, commercial leasing, housing law, real estate development, etc.):

  • Law schools’ curricular choices
  • Course content and design
  • Teaching and pedagogy application.

As explained more in the “Background” section below, the Sections are specifically looking to highlight issues related to course offerings, curricular design, and teaching methodologies that can better prepare students for modern practice and ensure student achievement of course objectives. Statements of interest (including a description/summary of your proposed presentation) should be emailed to Andrea Boyack at by September 17, 2020.

There is no formal paper requirement associated with participation on the panel. 

**Note that the AALS Annual Meeting in January 2021 will be held in a completely digital format, and individual registration fees will not be charged for participation in/attendance at the Annual Meeting.**

Background/Program Overview: 

In the past decade, legal education has experienced a number of body blows from which it still struggles to recover. In 2007, Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law (more commonly known as the “Carnegie Report”) criticized the academy for insufficiently preparing students for legal practice. In the aftermath of the 2008 Financial Crisis and global recession, many attorneys (especially from Big Law) were laid off and new graduates faced fewer and fewer job prospects. Mainstream and social media spotlighted lawyer and law student discontent, worries about sustainability of legal careers and the high cost of legal education, schools skewing data to try to game US News rankings, and the growing number of for-profit institutions. Law firms and their clients started exhibiting an increasing hesitancy with respect to hiring and training inexperienced attorneys. Law school admission rates tumbled as college graduates changed their opinions about the value of a legal education, as the ABA began making new demands of law schools pertaining to skills training and assessments. The practice of law, in the meantime, has changed dramatically, with automation, internet resources, and contract attorneys (or non-attorneys) taking the place performing tasks lawyers once controlled. Furthermore, schools have struggled to adapt to different expectations of the Millennial and Gen-Z generations of law students. Then, in March 2020, legal academia and law practice suddenly shifted to operating (temporarily?), primarily in the digital/virtual realm. The world has changed over the past 15 years, the practice of law has changed, and law schools struggle to adapt quickly enough to stay relevant and valuable.

The evolving demands and expectations for law schools are not just issues to be addressed by deans and administrators. Nor can the task of preparing new lawyers be allocated exclusively to clinicians and adjunct instructors of specialized “skills” classes. Doctrinal professors may want to also change their approach in the classroom in response to new industry demands for practice competencies and evolving attorney roles in an ever-changing marketplace, but have our pedagogical approaches adequately adapted to this new world? And how has law schools’ increasing reliance on adjunct professors impacted the students’ experience and preparation for the bar and beyond? In short: In what ways do we need to rethink what we teach and how we teach it in order to remain optimally relevant to tomorrow’s lawyers.


Per AALS rules, faculty at fee-paid law schools, foreign faculty, adjunct and visiting faculty (without a full-time position at an AALS member law school), graduate students, fellows, and non-law school faculty are not eligible to submit a statement of interest.

September 2, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

CFP: Race and Racism in Affordable Housing Law & Policy

ABA Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law

Call for Papers

Race and Racism in Affordable Housing Law & Policy

Drafts due November 1, 2020

The Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law (the Journal) invites articles and essays on issues related to race and racism in affordable housing law and policy.  Practitioners and scholars have long known of the racial inequities in housing, such as redlining, disparate impacts of zoning, racially restrictive covenants, segregated public housing projects, and the concentration of housing tax credits in low-income neighborhoods, to name but a few. While addressing the legacy—and continued applicability—of racially-based housing laws and policies has proven challenging, the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis opened a new conversation about racism embedded in American social institutions.  How should we think about race and racism in housing now?  What are the important issues where race and housing collide, and what are the solutions to address them?

For this issue, the Journal seeks wide participation and especially welcomes shorter essays (2,000–3,000 words).  In addition, the Journal will also continue to seek general essays (typically 2,500–6,200 words) or articles (typically 7,000–10,000 words) related to the Journal’s traditional subjects: affordable housing, fair housing and community/economic development.

The Journal is the nation’s only law journal dedicated to affordable housing and community development law.  The Journal educates readers and provides a forum for discussion and resolution of problems in these fields by publishing articles from distinguished law professors, policy advocates and practitioners.

Interested authors are encouraged to send an abstract describing their proposal no later than September 7, 2020.  Submissions of final articles and essays are due by November 1, 2020. Please email abstracts and final drafts to the Journal’s Editor-in-Chief, Stephen R. Miller, at The Journal also accepts submissions on a rolling basis. Please do not hesitate to contact the Editor with any questions.

September 1, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

A potential fix to conditional review of multi-family housing?

At yesterday's Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute RoundUp on housing, my small group breakout session with Erin Clark got to talking about the standards on which multi-family housing decisions get made.  After that call, I was thinking if there might be a way to tinker with the basic structure of entitlement elements that would shift the presumption in favor of multi-family housing and lessen the NIMBY effect.  I realize some will consider this an incidental fix, but consider...

Most multi-family housing units require some kind of discretionary permit, usually a conditional use permit (CUP).  In most states, the statute authorizing such permits requires that a CUP be "in compliance with the comprehensive plan," or similar language.  While I am all for comp planning, the reality is that this is the legal window through which the usual assaults on multi-family housing--traffic and noise--enter the fray, and the decisionmaking.  

My proposal is this:  for multi-family housing, local governments establish certain additional standards relative to issuance of CUPs.  Many local governments do this routinely for anything from drive-thrus to chain stores name it.  Why couldn't there be special presumptions that apply to multi-family housing and what "compliance with the comp plan" means?  For instance, a city could adopt something like the following as presumptions of compliance:

Multi-family projects are presumed to be in compliance with the comprehensive plan if the project affirmatively furthers location choices for low income individuals in an underserved location.  Non-compliance with the comprehensive plan must be shown by clear and convincing evidence through expert testimony.  This applies, but is not limited to, effects of a multi-family project on traffic and noise.

Again, I realize that this will not solve the housing problem in America.  But I do think that presumptions like these related to multi-family housing could make it easier for decisionmakers to evaluate--and approve--multi-family units even in the face of NIMBY opposition.  It also has the virtue of working within the existing system that most local governments will not have the money to change significantly for the near future.

I'd be curious folks' thoughts.




August 12, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Festschrift in Honor of Julian Conrad Juergensmeyer now available

The Festschrift II in Honor of Julian Conrad Juergensmeyer on the Occasion of his Retirement:  International Perspectives on Urban Law & Policy is now published in the Journal of Comparative Urban Law and Policy.  Check it out here:

August 11, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 9, 2020

APA Planning & Law Division announces 37th Annual Smith-Babcock-Williams Student Writing Competition

From Brian Connolly:

Full letter and instructions here:  Download APA-PLD Student Writing Competition 2020

To Whom It May Concern:

The Planning & Law Division of the American Planning Association announces its 37th Annual Smith-Babcock-Williams Student Writing Competition. The Competition, which honors the memory of three leading figures in American city planning law (R. Marlin Smith, Richard Babcock, and Norman Williams) seeks writings from applicants on a question of significance in planning, planning law, land use law, local government law or environmental law. The Division is excited to announce that it has updated the Competition for 2020. This year, the Competition will be open to both current students and recent graduates (within the past five years). We will also accept a greater variety of formats, including short essays, longer pieces on topics for a broader audience, or law review articles. As in past years, the winning entry will be awarded a prize of $2,000, the Second Place paper will receive a prize of $400 and we will award one Honorable Mention prize of $100. All three winning entries will be published in the semi-annual newsletter of the Division or, if a winning entry is suitable for law review publication, the Competition Committee will work with the winner to place the entry in a mutually-acceptable journal. Additionally, for winning entries that comment on a current topic of interest to planners and land use lawyers, the Competition Committee will invite one or more of the winning authors to coordinate and present a nationally-broadcast webinar on behalf of the Division. The deadline for submission of entries is October 31, 2020 and winners will be announced by December 1, 2020. Please refer to the enclosed official rules for further details. Our past experience has shown that teachers in planning, planning law, land use law, local government law or environmental law are in an ideal position to stimulate student and recent graduate interest in research and writing and to encourage participation in the Competition. Each year, many of the entries appear to have been prepared initially for courses or seminars. We hope you will add your support to the Competition by encouraging your current and past students to submit entries. 

August 9, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call for Manuscripts - Zoning and Planning Law Report

Patricia Salkin, the editor of the Zoning and Planning Law Report is seeking 18-20 double spaced page manuscripts that are practitioner focused for upcoming monthly issues of the newsletter.  This is a wonderful opportunity to either preview work you are doing towards law review articles and book chapters, or you can excerpt recently published work and frame it for practitioner use.

In addition, if you are from New York or wish to publish something specific about either New York law or federal law with a New York focus, please submit to Patricia Salkin for the bi-monthly New York Zoning Law and Practice Report.

The reviews are quick and if appropriate for publication you will get a date.  One set of page proofs and then the articles go to publication.  They are available on Westlaw. 

Email Salkin at 

August 9, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Limitations of Government Authority in Response to Public Health Emergency – FREE CLE (Live Webcast Only)

I am giving a free CLE webinar for the Idaho State Bar this Friday called, "Limitations of Government Authority in Response to Public Health Emergency."

Event Details
Date: August 7, 2020 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
August 7, 2020; 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm (MT); 1.0 Idaho CLE Credit (pending); other jx may permit CLE by local rule


Anyone can register for free here.


Professor Stephen R. Miller, University of Idaho College of Law, will review cases across the country challenging state and local governments’ coronavirus-related public health measures, such as stay-at-home orders and mask mandates. The discussion will cover legal theories advanced by litigants, as well as decisions rendered by courts thus far.

I will discuss Idaho statutory provisions for about 15 minutes, then turn to a review of national cases that would be relevant for any jurisdiction.  Hope to e-see some of you there.

August 5, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Sustainable Development Code on land use and race

The Sustainable Development Code (SDC) has identified several land use provisions that may have racial impacts. "Local governments can use this list as a resource and exam whether the provisions are having a deleterious impact on minorities. This list, while not all-encompassing and focusing solely on development codes, represents what we hope to be the beginning of a conversation to form safer, more inclusive, and more equitable communities."

The full list can be found at:

July 14, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Elisabeth Haub School of Law Environmental Law & Policy Hack Competition (Virtual)

The first annual Elisabeth Haub School of Law Environmental Law & Policy Hack Competition is going virtual.  Law school teams are invited to submit a proposal that analyzes and develops a policy response to a knotty environmental challenge (this year, the design and implementation of climate-friendly vegetative spaces).  The deadline to register is September 1, 2020 and team proposals are due on October 1, 2020We will award the winning team $2,000 to be used toward implementation of their proposed policy.  Additional information, including the official competition rules and inaugural problem, are available on our website.

July 11, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 10, 2020

Mandelker on substantive due process claims in the land use litigation process

Daniel Mandelker recently published "Litigating Land Use Cases in Federal Court:  A Substantive Due Process Primer" in the Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Journal.  The article is available here:

Download Mandelker Article Final

Here is the editor's summary:

This Article argues that land use plaintiffs should have access to federal courts when they can claim that abusive governmental decisions violate their substantive due process rights. Traditionally, land use plaintiffs have faced many hurdles in getting their cases into federal court. This Article shows how courts can provide effective constitutional relief in land use cases involving governmental abuse. This Article discusses major hurdles that land use plaintiffs traditionally face when bringing a case in federal court, including the entitlement rule, the ripeness barrier, and Graham preemption. The entitlement rule means that a plaintiff must have an entitlement to property before she can bring a substantive due process claim. The ripeness barrier requires a plaintiff in a takings case to obtain a final decision from the local government before bringing a takings claim in federal court. Graham preemption prevents a court from hearing a substantive due process case if the case could have been brought under a more specific constitutional clause, such as the takings clause.
This Article concludes with a discussion of the appropriate standard of review that should be applied in land use substantive due process cases. The Article rejects the shocks the conscious standard applied by the Supreme Court in influential Fourth Amendment cases as the appropriate standard and goes on to discuss the inconsistency of standards applied within circuits to other substantive due process cases. The Article ends with an analysis of the “arbitrary conduct” standard of judicial review applied when municipalities engaged in abusive conduct in land use cases.

July 10, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 7, 2020




On July 15th at 8:30 am EST, the Global Pandemic Network (GPN) in partnership with UN-Habitat will be holding a webinar – Covid-19 and Cities, Building Resilience on Human Rights and Environmental Protection. Presentations will be given on the following topics:  (1) Covid-19, Cities and the Environment; (2) Covid-19, Cities and Climate Change; (3) Covid-19, Cities and Sustainability; (4) Covid-19, Cities and Governance.

GPN collects global responses to COVID-19 and its legacy, prompts debate and enables knowledge-sharing among high-level academic institutions worldwide, spurring cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research collaborations. To learn more about the GPN, register for the webinar, and join a working group, visit

In conjunction with GPN and UN-Habitat, the Journal of Comparative Urban Law and Policy (Georgia State University College of Law) and The International Journal of Human Rights (Taylor & Francis online) will be accepting submissions from working groups and others outside the network within three focus areas:  (1) COVID-19, Cities and the Environment; (2) COVID-19, Cities and Governance; and (3) COVID-19, Cities and Human Rights.  The submission deadline is December 15, 2020.

See more details on the Call for Papers below.

Download Joint Call for Papers - GPN & UN Habitat


July 7, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 28, 2020

CFP: Affordable Housing & Community Development in the Age of Pandemic


ABA Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law

Call for Papers

Affordable Housing and Community Development in an Age of Pandemic

Expressions of interest due no later than June 12, 2020

Drafts due July 15, 2020


The Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law (the Journal) invites articles and essays on how affordable housing and community development practitioners have adapted to challenges of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), as well as forward-looking responses and policies to the pandemic.  Topics covered could include changes and challenges in financing, developing, or managing affordable housing, as well as threats posed and opportunities emerging for the community development field.

For this issue, the Journal seeks wide participation and especially welcomes shorter essays (2,000–3,000 words) that reflect upon this unusual time.  Such essays may not necessarily require detailed citation but instead focus on memorializing efforts to respond to the coronavirus or framing an issue of ongoing importance.  In addition, the Journal will also continue to seek general essays (typically 2,500–5,000 words) or articles (typically 7,000–10,000 words) related to the Journal’s traditional subjects: affordable housing, fair housing and community/economic development.

The Journal is the nation’s only law journal dedicated to affordable housing and community development law.  The Journal educates readers and provides a forum for discussion and resolution of problems in these fields by publishing articles from distinguished law professors, policy advocates and practitioners.

Interested authors are encouraged to submit a brief description of their proposals no later than June 12, 2020.  Submissions of final articles and essays are due by July 15, 2020. Please email abstracts and final drafts to the Journal’s Editor-in-Chief, Stephen R. Miller, at The Journal also accepts submissions on a rolling basis. Please do not hesitate to contact the Editor with any questions.

May 28, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Alterman on enforcement and justifiable noncompliance in planning law

Prof. Rachelle Alterman (Technion – Israel Institute of Technology) has posted Between informal and illegal in the Global North:  Planning law, enforcement, and justifiable noncompliance, which is a chapter from an upcoming book called Comparative Approaches to Informal Housing Around the World.  The chapter is available here, and the abstract is below:

Much research has focused on the widespread phenomenon of “informal” construction in developing countries, where planning laws are dysfunctional. However, in recent years scholars have used this term with reference to Global North countries as well, where planning laws generally do function reasonably well. In this chapter, we take on a difficult task: to try and distinguish contexts or situations where indeed, planning law fails to the extent that noncompliance should be regarded as justifiable. To do so, we first demonstrate the difficulties and elusiveness of making a judgment of when noncompliance merits the term “informal”, thus calling for conceptual criteria. Once the challenges and dilemmas are exposed, the paper proposes six situations – or criteria– when noncompliance may be justifiable. Each is accompanied with real-life examples. The chapter concludes by pointing out the deep shortcomings in the interrelationships between regulatory planning on the one hand, and the grossly under-researched enforcement functions

May 13, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Brobst on drone use ordinances and civil rights in home rule jurisdictions

Interim Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Law Jennifer Brobst (Southern Illinois Univ. School of Law) has posted Enhanced Civil Rights in Home Rule Jurisdictions:  Newly Emerging UAS/Drone Use Ordinances,  122 W. Va. L. Rev.  ___ (forthcoming Spring 2020) on SSRN.  Here is the link, and here is the abstract:

As new, disruptive technologies emerge, the federal government tends to proceed cautiously and often should. State and local units of government, particularly in home rule jurisdictions, may have more potential to respond quickly to innovative technology and its potential threat to civil rights. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, commonly known as drones, or Unmanned Aerial Systems (“UAS”), which include the drone’s operator equipment and software, demonstrate this legal challenge regarding intrusions on persons and property. This article reveals the breadth and flexibility of local ordinances in the United States that permit and restrict drone usage in a way that protects the civil rights of its local residents, and at a point in time before preemption challenges close off such innovation.



May 12, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Idaho Law named ACS Rising Chapter of the Year

At a small law school like mine, professors wear many hats.  Among mine:  faculty adviser to Idaho Law's American Constitution Society chapter.  For the past couple of years, we have had a great group of students that have really grown the organization and put on a ton of great programming.  They were recognized this week as the Rising Chapter of the Year!  This is a wonderful national recognition for a small law school, and recognizes the progressive future here in Idaho.  Full announcement here.




April 29, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

NFPA wildfire and insurance free webinars

For those interested in disaster management, these two free webinars organized by NFPA should be worth a listen.  They are aimed at residents, but they will cover a lot of basics around how wildfire and insurance markets work.  Links below:


April 28, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 20, 2020

Practical Uses for Narrative in the Land Use Process

I have just posted on SSRN a brief essay I recently wrote about narrative in the land use process.  The essay is available here.  The abstract is below:

The land use process is typically viewed as a fact-based determination of whether a project meets stated code requirements for issuance of a ministerial or discretionary permit. However, the issuance of discretionary permits, such as a conditional use permit, often turns on the narrative behind a project. Is the project providing much-needed density, or is it altering the unique character of a neighborhood? Are project opponents defenders of the city's character, or are they NIMBYs acting in discriminatory ways? Are developers heroes helping to resolve the affordability crisis, or rapacious capitalists without concern for the city's long-term vitality? While legal determinations of discretionary permits focus on fact-finding through the arbitrary and capricious and substantial evidence tests, sub-narratives embedded in those factual findings often are especially persuasive in decisionmaking. This article seeks to explore how all sides in land use battles can use methods of narrative otherwise used in storytelling arts, such as film and fiction writing, to better craft narrative in the land use process.

I am just beginning to explore the relationship between narrative and the land use process and would welcome folks' thoughts.  This essay was an initial foray into the subject that I intend to revisit in a longer article in the future.

April 20, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

A light-hearted gentrification (and love story) romp: The Roxy Letters out today

I just want to put a plug in for my friend Mary Pauline Lowry, whose novel The Roxy Letters is out today from Simon & Schuster.  It is their top book of the spring season, and with good reason.  I knew Mary here in Boise as she wrote this book, and it has been a lot of fun to watch it evolve and, with some luck, become a blockbuster.  Mary would describe it as Bridget Jones Diary in Austin, or something about sex-starved life in Austin post-Great Recession.  But let's be real, Mary:  it's a land use novel about gentrification.  The plot revolves (in part) around a woman who is fed up with the loss of cultural institutions in her beloved, funky Austin that is increasingly beset with Lululemons and other chain stores.  Much comedy ensues as she decides to fight the power, and tries to find love along the way.  Of course, Mary (and probably her publisher) would be mortified to hear me describe The Roxy Letters as a land use novel, but that's my take, and I'm sticking to it.  Buy a copy today!



Here is the official, non-land use focused description: 

Meet Roxy. She’s a sometimes vegan, always broke artist with a heart the size of Texas and an ex living in her spare bedroom. Her life is messy, but with the help of a few good friends and by the grace of the goddess Venus she’ll discover that good sex, true love, and her life’s purpose are all closer than she realizes.

Bridget Jones penned a diary; Roxy writes letters. Specifically: she writes letters to her hapless, rent-avoidant ex-boyfriend—and current roommate—Everett. This charming and funny twenty-something is under-employed (and under-romanced), and she’s decidedly fed up with the indignities she endures as a deli maid at Whole Foods (the original), and the dismaying speed at which her beloved Austin is becoming corporatized. When a new Lululemon pops up at the intersection of Sixth and Lamar where the old Waterloo Video used to be, Roxy can stay silent no longer.

As her letters to Everett become less about overdue rent and more about the state of her life, Roxy realizes she’s ready to be the heroine of her own story. She decides to team up with her two best friends to save Austin—and rescue Roxy’s love life—in whatever way they can. But can this spunky, unforgettable millennial keep Austin weird, avoid arrest, and find romance—and even creative inspiration—in the process?





April 7, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Housing Policy Ideas from the Presidential Platforms: Homebuyer and Renter Assistance

This post continues a review of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates housing policies.  The full review I conducted is available on SSRN here.  Today, I excerpt a portion of the review that looks at ideas for homebuyer and renter assistance.  Of course, some of this has now changed dramatically in light of Covid-19 and the CARES Act; however, much remains highly relevant.  Here is the review:

A number of policies sought to assist both renters and those transitioning into becoming a homebuyer.

Renter’s credits.  Renter’s credits, some of which also implicated homebuyer assistance, were a popular proposal.  Hickenlooper supported a renter’s credit of up to $5,500 per year.  Harris’ Rent Relief Act would create a refundable tax credit for renters who pay more than 30% of their gross income for the taxable year on their rent including utilities.  Under Harris’ proposal, people who live in government-subsidized housing would be able to claim the value of one month’s rent as a tax credit to provide relief from rising costs.  Similarly, Booker’s proposed Housing, Opportunity, Mobility and Equity (HOME) Act would provide a renter’s credit to cap rental costs at 30% of income for working and middle-class Americans.  Castro supported a Renters Tax Credit that would assist individuals with incomes up to the area median income (AMI), and would allow the credit to be placed in tax-advantaged savings accounts for down payments.  Inslee supported a renter’s credit for households under 50% of AMI paying more than 30% of income on rent.  Steyer supported a quarterly tax credit to directly help low-income and middle-income families based on the local area Small Area Fair Markets Rents designations.  Those who qualify could choose to use this credit either for rental payment assistance or to save for a down payment on a home mortgage.  Patrick supported a rent credit with an associated special savings account.

Personal financing accounts.  There were also several proposals for personal accounts that could be used for long-term planning or in times of crisis, which several platforms deemed to include housing-related emergencies or down-payments.  For instance, Klobuchar proposed UP Accounts, which could be used for rent payments in emergencies.  O’Rourke proposed Kickstart Accounts, which he described as a matched savings program to save for a down payment or other asset building activity in which the government would match personal savings.  An example was as follows:  “A married couple with three kids wants to save for a down payment. They earn $45,000 and save $2,000 each year out of their tax refund to obtain the full $4,000 match. After three years of saving, they will have accumulated $18,000 in their Kickstart savings account. They would be able to purchase the median priced home ($250,000) with an FHA loan (3.5% down payment or $8,750) and cover the closing costs ($8,750).”  Booker proposed Baby Bonds.  In this proposal, every child at birth receives a $1,000 savings account, which could grow by up to $2,000 every year thereafter depending on the family's income.  At 18, low-income account-holders would have access to nearly $50,000 for things including a down payment on a home.

Credit history.  There were several platforms that sought to make it easier to get prove a credit history, which can be problematic for some homebuyers.  (Klobuchar, Castro).  One proposal would require issuers of FHA-backed mortgages to account for a greater variety of indicators when assessing creditworthiness, including crediting on-time payments for rent, cell phone payments, utilities, student loans, and other transactions prioritized by low-income individuals and families (Castro).

Other proposals.  A variety of policies were proposed to extend the availability of mortgages and problems of those with bad mortgages.  Proposals included: $2 billion to assist those with negative equity on their mortgages caused by the financial crisis (Warren) and reducing premiums for FHA-backed mortgages to boost access to affordable mortgages (Castro).   A revolving fund to assist public servants with down payment assistance (first responders, doctors, nurses, and teachers) was proposed (Steyer).

Increasing first-time home-buyer and renter education was a priority for several platforms (Klobuchar, Castro).  Proposals included supporting housing counseling, renter education, and financial literacy programs that are proven to help homebuyers, homeowners and renters achieve more favorable terms.

A refundable mortgage down payment tax credit was also proposed to help families get over the hurdle of a down payment into homeownership (Bennet). 

Expanding small mortgage access and utilizing better appraisal methods in rural areas and small towns were also discussed (Bennet).  An extra $100 million in annual funding to CDFIs for mortgage lending activities through the CDFI Fund was also proposed (O’Rourke).

Warren proposed a $4 billion Middle-Class Housing Emergency Fund, which she claimed would build middle-class homes for buyers and renters where there's a supply shortage and housing costs rising faster than incomes.

April 2, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)