N.Y. Advocates Push Clinton, Sanders to Talk Urban Policy

Candidates asked to address affordable housing.

A Bernie Sanders supporter holds a sign at a rally attended by Hillary Clinton in New York. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

New York City lawmakers and advocates are seizing on the upcoming Democratic primary vote to push presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to talk about big-city problems like housing that have gone largely undiscussed in the 2016 race thus far, reports Politico. The advocacy group Community Voices Heard, which represents low-income New York State families, has formally invited both Clinton and Sanders to tour a public housing facility ahead of the April 19 primary, in an attempt to elevate the issues to the national stage. Neither has accepted thus far.

“Housing has not been any part of the presidential campaign,” NYC Council Member Brad Lander told Politico. “[The] federal government has withdrawn from affordable housing. There’s been no new Section 8 certificates in years. There’s no senior housing, there’s not an ambitious national housing trust fund — and yet we’ve heard almost nothing from the candidates on this.”

While Clinton and Sanders have both been detailed about fixing the nation’s infrastructure, the candidate with the most specific urban agenda may actually have been former Maryland Governor and Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, no longer in the race. Clinton officials dispute the charge that they have overlooked urban issues, pointing to her $125 billion economic revitalization program. That includes $25 billion for a housing investment program designed to increase affordable rental housing near job centers and schools.

Sanders’ proposals focus more overtly on rural America than urban, despite the fact that 80 percent of Americans live in cities. Critics say he lacks an understanding of urban issues, while supporters point to his record as mayor of Burlington, Vermont, in the 1980s as evidence of his savvy. He’s generally credited with setting up and funding the community land trust there that has become a national model of success.

Republican candidates are largely ignoring — and sometimes even expressing disdain for — cities as well. (That’s partially because the early, major primary states are generally less urban than the nation as a whole.)

Sanders and Clinton will debate in Brooklyn on April 14, ahead of what is expected to be a contentious primary. While early predictions had Clinton easily beating Sanders in her adopted home state, he’s drawing large crowds and big support in New York City.

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Jen Kinney is a freelance writer and documentary photographer. Her work has also appeared in Philadelphia Magazine, High Country News online, and the Anchorage Press. She is currently a student of radio production at the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies. See her work at jakinney.com.

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Tags: affordable housingcity hall2016 presidential election

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