Lee commits to measurable action on affordability, homelessness, and housing in her first Senate Term
Oakland, California — Today, U.S. Senate candidate Barbara Lee unveiled the first of her “pragmatic progressive” policy pillars. These plans include clear commitments that Lee intends to push forward on day one of her Senate term.
Lee’s first pillar — Affordability — addresses the high costs that Californians are facing across the board. As the only candidate in the Senate race who has experienced being unhoused, Barbara Lee prioritizes a multi-pronged approach to comprehensively address California’s crises of housing, homelessness, and cost of living.
Her plan outlines specific policy actions she will take to increase wages for workers, lower housing costs, tackle homelessness, increase access to affordable child care, and protect renters’ rights.
“Californians deserve immediate relief for the economic burdens they’re facing. These challenges require bold, realistic solutions that cannot wait. These plans are common sense and politically achievable,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee, candidate for U.S. Senate. “Fighting for the greater vision of an equitable, livable and prosperous California means taking achievable, immediate action to uplift working families and low-income people. That starts with lowering housing costs, increasing wages to a living wage, and giving families access to affordable child care. In the Senate, I will deliver policies that give working people the support they need now and into the future.”
“Progress is about consistency and persistence — taking on each tough fight and breaking down each barrier ahead to eventually achieve the better world we’re fighting for. I’ve been the consistent and persistent progressive fighter that has delivered wins that allow Californians’ tax dollars to work for them. That’s why I’m committing to these First Term Policy Pillars — so that everyday Californians have change that they can count on seeing today and in the future. They’re progressive, pragmatic policies that are tough fights, but fights I know how to win,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee, candidate for U.S. Senate.
Policy Pillar I: Affordability
In the Bay Area, a typical family of four needs $127,332 just to meet basic needs, according to data collected by the United Way Bay Area. Lee will increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25/hour to $17/hour through the Raise the Wage Act. The increase would be the first in a decade, accounting for inflation and higher costs working families face.
With a $17/hour wage as a national starting point, Lee will push for a living wage reflective of the higher cost of living in California and other states, and establish an indexed minimum wage increase that keeps up with the rising cost of living.
Support Home Ownership
With 45% percent of Californians renting their homes, homeownership is becoming less and less attainable for millions of people in the state. Lee’s plan supports and expands the ability of Californians to own a home and generate wealth.
A longstanding member of the House Appropriations Committee, Lee outlines a path for more attainable homeownership with a commitment to invest in the Housing Trust Fund, champion the Downpayment Toward Equity Act, and expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit.
Invest In Affordable Housing
Lee believes dignified, affordable housing is a human right. With equity at the core of her housing priorities, Lee will build on the Biden administration’s plan to advance fair housing, specifying her intent to advocate for more federal resources to enforce fair housing laws.
To incentivize communities to create more affordable housing, Lee wants to implement conditions and incentives that break down regulatory barriers, preventing bureaucratic hurdles from delaying construction of projects funded with federal dollars.
Lee will also champion increased interagency collaboration, fostering coordination between federal agencies such as the Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Transportation to promote the creation of more livable transit-oriented development with federal dollars.
In the Senate, Lee will champion the Housing Crisis Response Act, which would provide more than $150 billion in fair and affordable housing investments, representing the single largest investment in affordable housing in our nation’s history. Lee will also push the passage of the Ending Homelessness Act of 2023, which will put $10 billion into permanent affordable housing.
Expand Services & Care To Address Homelessness
To address California’s homelessness crisis at the federal level, Lee plans to fight for meaningful investment in social services for those who need it most.
As a psychiatric social worker and founder of a community mental health center, Lee knows first-hand that treatment — not criminalization — is the key to addressing substance use and mental health disorders. With a concurrent fight to establish universal health care, continuing to lead on the Ending Homelessness Act of 2023, Lee will make the Housing Choice Voucher program a federal entitlement and invest in outreach and case management.
Defend Renters’ Rights
In addition to making it easier for Californians to buy a home and generate wealth, Lee will protect renters and keep Californians housed.
In the Senate, Lee will prioritize instituting a national eviction moratorium, as was instituted during the COVID-19 pandemic, a national cap on rent increases, and a Renters’ Bill of Rights.
She also will fight to pass the DEPOSIT Act — her legislation to provide security deposit assistance through the Department of Housing and Urban Development to those who qualify. While the program has upfront cost, it becomes a revolving fund that reduces barriers to accessing housing.
Expand The Care Economy
As a single mother raising two young boys, while working toward her degree, Lee knows how difficult it is to find affordable child care. In the Senate, Lee will champion affordable child care, and reinstate the Child Tax Credit, a proven measure to bring children out of poverty.
In addition to lower childcare costs, Lee will institute universal paid family leave at the federal level through the FAMILY Act, invest in elder care with her Elder Care Tax Credit Act, and supplement the cost burden of infant and toddler care with the End Diaper Need Act.
Reprioritize Federal Spending
To pay for these investments, Lee will focus on her continued fight to reduce the Defense Budget and pass her Audit the Pentagon Act. She will champion her legislation, the OLIGARCH Act and the CEO Act, to reduce inequality and mandate billionaires pay their fair share.
Additionally, when the Trump tax cuts expire in 2025 and the Senate reevaluates the tax code, Lee will push for a reformed tax code that generates revenue mechanisms that sustainably invest in Californians’ needs and priorities, including housing and the care economy.