The only way to fix the country’s housing problem is for Republicans and Democrats to sit in a room together and talk about housing policy until they agree, according to one presidential hopeful at the Bipartisan Policy Center/J. Ronald Terwilliger New Hampshire Housing Summit on Friday.
Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was asked about other issues despite the fact that the event was a housing summit—but he never strayed too far from housing during a discussion on stage with Carl Cameron of Fox News and a Q and A session with the audience. Other presidential candidates such as Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and New York Governor George Pataki, were on hand to address the housing crisis.
Cameron asked Christie what he would do in the first 100 days of his presidency to put the country on a bipartisan path to close the gap so that people who are trapped in renting and want to own a home can do so.
Christie responded that the way to do it is to bring all the Republicans and Democrats from Congress and put them together and ask each side what it can live with and to stay together until they come up with a list of items that both sides agree on. And as president, he said, he would support the list that the sides agree on.
“That’s the way you’re going to fix it,” Christie said. “Unfortunately what happens most of the time now is, this president just meets with Democrats, the previous president just meets with Republicans, of whoever’s in the majority, and there’s no outreach to everyone else. I’ve got to worry about keeping a Republican caucus in line and I’ve got to try to get a Democratic majority to come and help me with things. I’ve been doing this for six years. For everybody else, it’s like splitting the atom. For me, it’s what I do every day.”
"We don’t make that correlation because it’s one of those really ugly undersides of American society that we don’t want to talk about.” Chris Christie
The housing crisis has been referred to as a “silent” crisis by former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros and former Senator Scott Brown, both of whom spoke at Friday’s event, because no one wants to talk about it. But when it comes to issues like income inequality, low homeownership rates, and people losing their homes due to foreclosure, why is it not talked about more often in the news and elsewhere?
“I think that the reason you don’t have a lot of discussion about it is because it’s not the sexiest issue in the world to talk about and it kind of depresses me,” Christie said. “Right? When you hear folks talk about the enormous challenge it creates to a family to either be homeless or be on the verge of homeless and the tension and pressure it creates, people don’t make the correlation to health even though they should and they don’t make the correlation to education even though they should. We don’t make that correlation because it’s one of those really ugly undersides of American society that we don’t want to talk about.”
Despite the fact that no one seems to want to talk about the housing crisis, however, Christie stated, “Housing is one of those things that we have to talk about. That’s why I came up here today,” adding that he has seen the effect of the housing crisis in his state of New Jersey and the slow rate of recovery, and “We need to fix it.”