By Wilson Walker


SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Billionaire 2020 presidential candidate Tom Steyer served up breakfast at Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco on Tuesday and the line stretched down the street.

The candidate actually calls San Francisco home and his focus on this day was homelessness and housing.

“You were asking about inequity,” Steyer said during a press event in the Tenderloin. “Housing is at the center of inequality in our country, because it determines so many other things in your life.”

Tom Steyer serves breakfast at Glide Memorial Church (CBS)

So at an affordable housing development right around the corner from Glide, Steyer pitched a $625 billion investment.

“Both to improve and increase the stock of affordable housing,” Steyer explained. “And that includes putting up billions of dollars every single year and a variety of ways to do that.”

When it comes to building housing, or just about anything, a dollar’s mileage varies across the United States. The building he toured Tuesday was not inexpensive.

“$700,000 a unit to develop,” says Donald Falk, CEO of Tenderloin Neighborhood Development. “We developed a similar property 15 years ago that was around $350,000 a unit.”

Falk is the CEO of the housing organization that hosted Steyer’s visit. He says while San Francisco’s challenges are uniquely profound, answers are required nationwide. By one estimate, the affordable housing shortfall in United States is about seven million units.

“It has been a goal of affordable housing advocates for a long, long time for affordable housing to be a subject of national conversation,” Falk said.

“Literally, I was in a very small town in rural Iowa yesterday, and they were talking about a housing shortage,” Steyer said of the housing crunch emerging across the country.

Trailing in national polls, Steyer has now pitched the housing conversation as a central plank of his platform. When asked how long he might continue the campaign, he pointed to early primaries like Iowa.

“For me, and the 250 other people running for president, the question is going to be ‘Do you have something important, true, and different to say?'”

He answered.

“And can you be a trusted messenger for the American people?’”

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