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Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez

Representing the 7th District of New York

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Velazquez, NYC Members of Congress Call for Additional Housing Funding

Velázquez, NYC Members of Congress Call for Additional Housing Funding
March 17, 2016
Press Release

Washington, DC –Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez today led members of the New York City Congressional delegation in writing to Congressional appropriators calling for additional funds for the maintenance and operation of public housing. The letter comes as it was reported in New York City that some New York City Housing Authority residents may be exhibiting elevated lead in their blood stream.

The text of the letter is below.


March 17, 2016

The Honorable Mario Diaz-Balart                         
Chairman
Subcommittee on Transportation,
Housing and Urban Development,
and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
United States Congress
440 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable David Price
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Transportation,
Housing and Urban Development,
and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
United States Congress
2108 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

 

Dear Chair Diaz-Balart, and Ranking Member Price:

As the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development, and Related Agencies begins its important work of considering funding for Fiscal Year 2017, we urge you to take steps in FY 2017 to preserve the nation’s most at-risk public housing and improve the health and safety of tens of thousands residents by increasing Public Housing Capital and Operating funding in FY 2017.  Federal housing assistance is essential for providing safe, decent, and affordable housing for many of our nation’s most vulnerable populations.  As such, we recognize that this investment requires a robust and proportional increase to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (T-HUD) 302(b) and urge the Appropriations Committee to increase the T-HUD 302(b) in FY 2017. 

We urge you to increase the Public Housing Capital Fund to $5 billion.  While we recognize this amount is higher than President Obama’s Request, this additional funding is critical.  At least $600 million of the increased funding should be targeted to capital repairs that would improve the health of residents including health problems caused by mold in housing units.  This investment should address the root cause of residents’ health concerns related to mold.  The root causes of the mold in public housing are leaky roofs, crumbling exterior bricks, and old piping.  Addressing these repairs could improve the health and quality of life for thousands of low-income children, elderly, and residents with disabilities.    

Inter-agency collaborations—such as the one undertaken by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs—that reduced homelessness for America’s veterans would be key in addressing the health impacts of residents.  Collaboration between HUD and the Department of Health and Human Services would extend health resources and expertise to housing units and allow agencies to measure the health impacts and federal cost savings related to the capital investment. 

Congress should require HUD to have PHAs identify a public health issue that capital repairs will impact and to develop a detailed work plan outlining a timeline and the course of action. Congress should require that HUD submit semi-annual reports on PHAs’ progress in making capital repairs that should be publicly available to all interested parties, including residents. 

We also urge you to increase the Public Housing Operating Fund to $5.302 billion.  While this requested amount is also higher than the President’s FY 2017 Request, every dollar is needed to operate public housing and this requested amount would allow PHAs to respond more quickly to health and safety-related maintenance issues. For properties with mold, increased funding would allow PHAs to provide quicker remediation efforts, take steps to prevent mold from forming, and provide a higher level of basic property maintenance. 

In addition to helping PHAs with their mold remediation efforts, increasing the Public Housing Operating Fund to $5.302 billion will provide PHAs with additional resources to maintain public safety features of developments and engage in efforts related to crime prevention.  Increasing the Public Housing Operating Fund will help PHAs to maintain security cameras, locks, and stairway lighting and resident-led participation activities which have demonstrated success in reducing illegal activity.    

Without these types of investments, PHAs across the country are a risk of losing valuable public housing units.  Since 2010, nationwide 200,000 units of public housing have been lost and 10,000 are at risk of being lost each year unless critical funding gaps are filled. 

After years of underfunding public housing we are now approaching a cross-road; we can invest and preserve our nation’s valuable public housing or we can choose to lose public housing units because of underfunding, decay, and neglect.  Therefore, we urge you to increase funding to preserve public housing. 

Sincerely,

Nydia Velázquez
Grace Meng
Carolyn B. Maloney
Charles B. Rangel
Gregory Meeks
Eliot L. Engel
Yvette D. Clarke
Jerrold Nadler
Joseph Crowley
Hakeen Jeffries

 

 

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