Bill will bring $70B to address backlogged repairs and maintenance issues in Public Housing
Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez introduced H.R.4546, the Public Housing Emergency Response Act, on September 27, 2019. This legislation would allocate $70 billion for public housing capital repairs and upgrades nationally. Under the proposal, $32 billion would flow to the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). According to the first quarterly report conducted by the NYCHA Federal Monitor, Bart Schwartz, the neglected state of the physical infrastructure such as: broken pipes, leaking radiators and toxic liquids, resulted in unsuitable living conditions for residents. Velázquez’s legislation would yield a historic infusion of public housing resources necessary to eliminate the repair backlog and remedy living conditions for residents. After the bill’s introduction to the House of Representatives it was referred to the House Committee on Financial Services that same day.
Residents are being exposed to mold, lead, and a lack of heat on a regular basis, exacerbating their risk of contracting COVID-19. That’s why I am proud that Senator Warren, a true progressive champion for bold reforms, is introducing the Senate companion to my bill to dedicate $70 billion to funding for capital repairs and upgrades in public housing developments across America.Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez
On March 4, 2021 Senator Elizabeth Warren announced she would introduce the bill to the Senate. “America’s affordable housing crisis has hit families everywhere hard, but it has hit the lowest-income households the hardest — it is time to stop nibbling around the edges and fix the problem. I’m glad to join Representative Velázquez in her bold effort to wipe out the backlog of public housing maintenance and repairs to ensure we aren’t giving up on existing public housing as we work to expand our housing supply across the board,” said Senator Warren.
“Public housing was created to serve as a safe and affordable lifeline for families in New York and nationwide,” said Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY). “However, under conditions in countless public housing units, residents are being exposed to mold, lead, and a lack of heat on a regular basis, exacerbating their risk of contracting COVID-19. That’s why I am proud that Senator Warren, a true progressive champion for bold reforms, is introducing the Senate companion to my bill to dedicate $70 billion to funding for capital repairs and upgrades in public housing developments across America. By passing this bill, Congress can take a concrete step forward in renewing our nation’s commitment to public housing residents by building a healthier, safer future for those who call these units home.”
The Public Housing Emergency Response Act is cosponsored by Senators Sanders (I-Vt.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Tina Smith (D-Minn.).
“Families rely on public housing for a safe place to call home, but unaddressed maintenance and repairs have compromised the very safety these families need, especially during a public health crisis,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I am pleased to join my colleagues in announcing The Public Housing Emergency Response Act to address this massive backlog of maintenance and repairs in public housing.”
“Lacking the money needed to make urgent repairs, HUD is turning more and more to alternative solutions that “reposition” public housing to solutions programs that involve private financing and rely on vouchers.”Tenant Talk, Fall 2019
The Fall 2019 issue of Tenant Talk (a national low-income housing coalition publication) addressed the consequence of HUD’s lack of funding for public housing maintenance. “Lacking the money needed to make urgent repairs, HUD is turning more and more to alternative solutions that “reposition” public housing to solutions programs that involve private financing and rely on vouchers.” The publication includes “demolishing or disposing of (selling) public housing” in its definition of repositioning. Cooper Park Houses NextGen plan, which is currently on hold, could be seen as an example of this. Rep. Carolyn Maloney addressed it in an Op Ed.
The Public Housing and Emergency Response Act complements the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, which Senator Warren reintroduced in March 2019. The bill would help bring down costs for renters and buyers, level the playing field so working families everywhere can find a decent place to live at a decent price and take steps to address the effects of decades of housing discrimination on communities of color.
The bill is endorsed by the National Alliance of HUD Tenants, National Low-Income Housing Coalition, National Housing Law Project, Action Center on Race & the Economy, National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials, and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.