The Surreal Estate

Perspectives on Tenant Organizing from the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board

What Would We Ask?

Tomorrow, President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney square off in the second presidential debate. The debate will be town-hall style and candidates will be expected to answer questions about domestic and international policy issues. If the UHAB Organizing department was invited to attend the town-hall, here’s what we would ask:

  • Both Candidates: The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a study this summer which reveals a lack of balance in federal spending on housing and proposed a Renter’s Tax Credit to relieve the disproportionate tax burden on low income renters.  As the current housing crisis demonstrates, the homeownership model is not always an appropriate or even sustainable option for families. What will your administration do to provide stable, low income RENTAL housing? Would your administration consider a Renter’s Tax Credit to compliment the Low Income Housing Tax Credit?
  • Both Candidates: Many housing advocates agree that alternative ownership strategies such as limited equity cooperatives, land banks or mutual housing partnerships can go a long way in solving the housing crisis and can present viable alternatives for long term affordable housing. What is your position on these kinds of housing strategies and what supportive role would an Obama or Romney administration play in exploring alternatives for affordable housing?
  • Governor Romney: There has been a lot of talk recently about the Republican Party and its increasing dependence on the White Male Vote.  Matt Bai at the NY Times speculates that despite a declining population of this core constituency, the Republican Party is unlikely to re-evaluate it’s platform to appeal to women and immigrant voters.  How does the Republican Party respond to this?
  • President Obama: Chicago Public Schools  is the third largest urban school district in the country. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel is your former Chief of Staff and Education Secretary Arne Duncan also hails from the Windy City (as do you). For these reasons and others the Chicago teacher’s strike has been called a referendum on your administration’s approach to education. Now Jean Claude Brizard has resigned as CEO of CPS. Please speak to these issues and include how you can ensure that teacher quality will continue to rise.
  • Both Candidates: The most recent study from the Bureau of Justice Statistics indicates that the number of prisoners held in custody has increased by 10% since 2005.  23% of all prison facilities nationwide are now privatized.  As the number of inmates and correctional facilities rise, approximately 16% of folks on parole returned to incarceration. How do you intend to reduce the alarmingly high rates of recidivism?
  • Both Candidates: In this same vein, please comment on New York City’s “Stop and Frisk” program. The constitutionality of this program is currently being debated while  NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly is considered for the position of FBI Director, where he would have a considerable influence over federal policy. Many believe this program to be violent and racist. What is your opinion?
  • Governor Romney:  One of the many contested topics in this election is abortion and a woman’s right to choose. By denying women the right to have an abortion, many argue you are denying women the right to have control over her own reproductive health. How do you reconcile your party’s “land of the free” and individualist rhetoric with the right to have freedom over one’s own body?
  • Both Candidates: The newly developed Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program grants a 2 year legal work visa for undocumented people under 30 (as of June 15) who fit specific guidelines.  Both of you plan to keep the Deferred Action, clearly as a response to the powerful immigrant rights communities who have been fighting for years for the Dream Act. Will the program ever include a path to citizenship? How do each of you envision this Deferred Action program to inform the future of immigration reform?

Well, these are our questions. We’d love to hear from you.  If you could be at the Town Hall meeting tomorrow night, what questions would you ask the candidates?  Comment on this post and let us know.

2 responses to “What Would We Ask?

  1. Stewart Weaver October 15, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    All excellent questions. What a dream debate that would be.

  2. Pingback: Friday News Round-Up | The SurRealEstate

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