Warren ‘has a plan’ for NH housing shortage – and more – at Manchester town hall

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Listen to the Elizabeth Warren rally held at Henry J. McLaughlin Middle School on Nov. 23, 2019 in Manchester, NH.


A large and enthusiastic crowd greeted Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren on Nov. 23 at McLaughlin Middle School in Manchester, NH. Photo/Rob Greene

MANCHESTER, NHDolly Parton’s song “Nine to Five” accompanied presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to the speaker’s platform at McLaughlin Middle School Saturday afternoon, giving the crowd, nearly 600 strong, a beat to cheer and wave to. 

“So you may notice I’m a little hoarse,” Warren said. “All I can say is that I picked up a little bit of a cold. One hug too many in the selfie lines.”

Saturday’s event marked Warren’s 23rd visit to the Granite State since I first wrote about her in January, and her staff reckons she’s posed for about 85,000 selfies in 28 states and Puerto Rico since then. 

“Warren has a plan for that” T-shirts for sale. Photo/Rob Greene

On Saturday, Warren and her supporters were greeted by a throng of pro-Trump protesters on South Mammoth Road, several of them brandishing “Stop the Impeachment” signs. Inside the school, there was an ad-hoc singalong to Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” and a diverse (for New Hampshire) mob of supporters, including a dude with a white beard and a Santa hat, who was wearing a Pride-friendly “I love Elizabeth Warren for President” T-shirt, and a sandy-haired kid — he couldn’t have been more than 11— wearing a “F*ck Trump” button. Women outnumbered men at the event by just a bit.

Warren’s script hasn’t changed much since January. She told the story of her father’s illness, when her mother had to join the workforce for the first time to support the family with a minimum-wage job. She talked about her early dream of becoming a teacher, set aside when she got married, then resumed, and then stymied when she was fired for being pregnant. 

“The principal did what principals did in those days,” she said. “Wish me luck and hired someone else to do the job.”

Elizabeth Warren, always in motion, has put some serious miles on her running shoes. Photo/Rob Greene

You wouldn’t know it from watching the debates or any of Warren’s televised appearances, but her feet, clad in black sneakers for the Saturday event, are constantly in motion when she addresses crowds. Head cold notwithstanding, she was seldom still on the raised speaker’s platform at the middle school, moving to face every part of the room, rising up on her toes when she was making a point, and leaning forward when she was listening. 

Her to-do list as would-be president is extensive: End lobbying as we know it (“Lock the revolving door between Wall Street and Washington”), instill a code of ethics for would-be Supreme Court justices, get a law passed requiring everyone who runs for president to put their tax returns online, create a special wealth tax that kicks in after your first $50 million in income, universal childcare, universal pre-K, a raise for childcare workers, an $800 billion investment in public schools, free college, expansion of Medicare and Social Security, a Green New Deal, a law to roll back voter suppression, an end to gerrymandering, and student-loan forgiveness.

“Are we going to be an America for which opportunity only exists for those people born into privilege?” she said. Her answer on Saturday was no, and she has a plan for that. And plans behind the plans. 

Warren ended her prepared remarks after about forty minutes and opened the floor to questions. Prior to the event, Warren’s staff handed out tickets to anyone interested, to be drawn at random, for the opportunity to ask questions. Ticket number-one earned its holder an answer about housing scarcity. 

“New Hampshire has a less than one-percent vacancy rate and a homelessness crisis,” the ticket-holder said. “What’s your plan for affordable housing here in New Hampshire and the country?”

“Oh, so I have a plan for that,” Warren said. “First let’s talk about the dimensions of the problem here in New Hampshire and why there is such a low vacancy rate. The answer is supply.”

Elizabeth Warren fielded questions from the crowd, including one on the lack of affordable housing in NH. Photo/Rob Greene

Warren said part of the problem is that private developers are opting to build large, expensive houses rather than small, affordable ones. “I’m not mad at them, but they’re off building McMansions,” she said.

Warren’s plan would invest $500 billion in housing over the next ten years to build and rehab housing units that will be affordable for lower-income families. She said her plan will decrease rents by 10% for everyone and create 1.5 million new jobs. 

Warren mentioned the sitting president only a few times, saying it wasn’t enough for Demorcratic candidates to run on defense. 

“We’re not just on ‘Trump is a bad guy,’” she said. “My view is, if we spend all our time talking about Trump, we’re going to have a hard time winning this. We need to talk about what we stand for.”

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