A Reinvestment in America’s Public Housing: Empowering Residents, Creating Economic Opportunities, and Fostering Safe & Healthy Neighborhoods

For far too many American families the gap between incomes and the cost of housing in the private market is just too large, in fact in no area of the county can a full-time minimum-wage worker afford a modest two-bedroom rental home at market rates. As a result, public housing is a critical public asset that is a key part of our nation’s social safety net, providing safe, decent, and affordable housing for approximately 1.1 million families.

However, for decades America’s public housing developments have been plagued by chronic underinvestment and are now facing billions of dollars in deferred maintenance. From leaky roofs to malfunctioning elevators to mold and mildew which exacerbate chronic health concerns, many public housing units are in desperate need of repair and renewal. Public housing is home to millions of seniors, children, and working families. And they deserve a safe home. Unfortunately, Republicans have failed to provide the resources these developments need so that they remain safe, accessible and available for American families. The days of ignoring this problem are over. Democrats are proposing A Better Deal for Public Housing that takes a comprehensive approach to funding public housing developments and revitalizing neighborhoods. This plan will invest in public housing for the 21st Century.

The plan is a bold and comprehensive solution that would provide over $70 billion in critical investment over the next five years while also creating jobs and increasing the economic and health outcomes of public housing residents and surrounding neighborhoods. Building on The Public Housing Tenant Protection and Reinvestment Act of 2017, this plan preserves public housing and strengthens resident protections and involvement.

A Better Deal for Public Housing specifically does the following:

Repair America’s Aging Public Housing

A Better Deal for Public Housing invests $6 billion a year over the next five years to effectively eliminate the deferred maintenance needs in public housing. In addition, A Better Deal for Public Housing provides the necessary $9 billion a year in ongoing operations and maintenance funding needed to modernize these developments and ensure that they never again fall into a state of disrepair.

The plan will also provide the resources necessary to eliminate all major lead and mold hazards, reduce costs by making developments energy efficient and retrofit units to make them accessible for residents with disabilities.

Empower Residents to Fully Participate in and Benefit from the Revitalization Process

A Better Deal for Public Housing provides for the active involvement and participation of public housing residents through all aspects of the revitalization process. This will ensure that public housing serves its intended purpose of improving the lives of residents and sustaining these assets well into the future.

The plan also increases tenant protections in the residents’ relocation process and guarantees a right to return to redeveloped units.

Ensure Public Housing Agencies Have the Tools to Connect Residents to Opportunity

A Better Deal for Public Housing includes resources and the tools that help residents identify and access new rungs on the ladder of opportunity. Specifically, this plan will improve employment opportunities, earnings potential, and health outcomes for public housing residents by investing in: job counseling and training services; educational attainment programs; after-school enrichment programs for low-income families; and access to other vital community services.

The plan also narrows the digital divide by expanding access to quality high-speed broadband, which is currently absent in approximately 59.2% of public housing households.

Providing Comprehensive Solutions for the Communities Surrounding Public Housing

A Better Deal for Public Housing does not stop at the edge of a specific building or a defined city block but instead seeks to lift up the communities surrounding public housing as well. Therefore, Democrats are calling for a $2 billion annual investment in the Choice Neighborhoods program to rehabilitate and transform the most severely distressed neighborhoods across the country, while capitalizing on private resources to foster even deeper community investment and development.

A comprehensive approach to serving public housing residents includes an investment in their neighborhoods, and will in-turn lead to greater economic opportunities, reduction in the concentration of poverty, and breathe new life into communities that have been starved of resources for too long.

 

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