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Nadler, Velázquez Seek Funding for Public Housing

Washington, October 3, 2019

New York, N.Y. — Yesterday, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) joined Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) to introduce the Public Housing Emergency Response Act, legislation to 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).

In New York City, and across the nation, federal disinvestment in public housing has led to disrepair of buildings and hardship for tenants. According to a report conducted by the New York City Housing Authority’s newly-appointed monitor, physical infrastructure, such as broken pipes, leaking radiators and toxic liquids, has resulted in unsuitable living conditions for residents. In response, Velázquez’s legislation would yield a historic infusion of public housing resources necessary to eliminate the repair backlog and remedy living conditions for residents.

"Public housing in New York City and across the nation is in a crisis and it is far past time for the federal government to step up to the plate," said Congressman Jerrold Nadler. "Tenants in NYCHA face immoral conditions - collapsing ceilings, years-long leaks, and broken elevators - that would have resulted in any private landlord having their property seized. After years of disinvestment, public housing authorities nationwide are facing the terrible choice of either selling people's homes and getting out of the housing business, or standing by as the harm continues to mount to our communities because they do not have the funding necessary to maintain these buildings. We can and must provide a third choice - funding to make the repairs, and to allow our public housing residents to thrive.  This legislation does exactly that by investing $70 billion in federal funds into the Public Housing Capital Fund at HUD to save NYCHA and public housing across the country."   

“NYCHA used to serve as a national model for affordable housing,” said Velázquez. “Now, it has devolved into a man-made health crisis for working families and our most vulnerable neighbors. Seniors are living without heat, children in public housing suffer from asthma, and families are exposed to toxic lead. We must act boldly to reinvest in the marginalized communities public housing was created to serve.”

According to a leading study, children living in public housing statistically have a higher probability of developing asthma in comparison to children living in all other types of private housing, even after adjusting for individual risk factors. By expanding funding measures to reverse deteriorating infrastructure, health risks to minority and low-income children and families will be drastically reduced.

“All individuals deserve access to affordable housing that won’t jeopardize their health,” said Velázquez. “This Administration has repeatedly proposed zeroing out the Public Housing Capital Fund. Congress has repeatedly rejected those cuts, but we must do more. Today, my colleagues and I are charting a bold new course for our nation’s public housing. I thank my fellow New York City Members for joining me in taking necessary steps to reaffirm our commitment to public housing residents.”

“Safe, affordable housing is a basic right for every American,” said Rep. Eliot Engel. “As someone who grew up in a city housing project, I know firsthand the important role that the federal government plays in providing quality housing. Unfortunately, many of the apartments and residences maintained by the New York City Housing Authority are falling apart and need significant repairs. I am pleased to join Congresswoman Velazquez on this commonsense legislation, which will provide NYCHA with $32 billion to overhaul the City’s housing system.”

“Public housing in New York, and across the country, is in crisis,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. “There is not nearly enough public housing for everyone who needs it, and the public housing we do have is horribly under-funded with conditions that pose significant health hazards to residents. I’m proud to be an original cosponsor of the Public Housing Emergency Response Act which would provide the $70 billion necessary to pay for the entire capital backlog for every public housing authority in the country. We cannot turn our backs on the 1.2 million households living in public housing. We need bold legislation that is willing to combat this crisis head on and improve the quality of living for every public housing resident in the country — and especially here in New York.”

“It is past time for our federal government to act and fully fund public housing,” said Rachel Fee, Executive Director of the New York Housing Conference. “We know the serious consequences of leaking roofs, failing elevators, broken boilers and peeling paint. Safe and decent housing must be a bipartisan priority. NYHC thanks Congresswoman Velázquez for leading the way.”

The full text of the bill can be found online here.

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