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Velazquez Seeks Funding for Critical Public Housing Repairs

Velázquez Seeks Funding for Critical Public Housing Repairs
January 6, 2021
Press Release

Amid Pandemic, Proposes Bold Federal Investment to Repair Damaged Housing

Washington, DC – As the COVID-19 crisis continues to penetrate neighborhoods across America, Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) has introduced legislation that would allocate $70 billion in funding for public housing capital repairs and upgrades throughout the country. As damaged living conditions threaten the health and safety of public housing residents, this bill would facilitate a bold response to address maintenance and repair backlogs nationwide.

The bill, titled the Public Housing Emergency Response Act, would increase investment for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Public Housing Capital Fund to address necessary maintenance and improve overall living conditions for public housing residents. $32 billion of the allotted aid would flow directly to the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).

“Public housing was created to serve as a safe and affordable lifeline for families in New York and nationwide,” said Velázquez. “However, the current state of many public housing units is a direct threat to the health and safety of the families who call them home. Residents are exposed to mold, lead, and a lack of heat on a regular basis, all of which put them at a greater risk of contracting a severe case of coronavirus. This issue demands a bold approach, which is why the bill I am introducing today would provide substantial funding for capital repairs and upgrades, taking a concrete step towards renewing our nation’s commitment to public housing residents during the pandemic and beyond.”

Nationwide, countless public housing buildings remain neglected, even as broken fixtures pose substantial health risks to residents. These neglected damages have the potential to exacerbate existing health conditions for residents and pose a pressing threat as the coronavirus continues to spread.

Disinvestment in public housing has been linked to long-term health issues in inhabitants. Children living in public housing, according to a leading study by the Journal of Urban Health, are at a significantly higher risk of developing asthma when compared to their counterparts living in other types of private housing. These conditions have the potential to leave tenants especially vulnerable to coronavirus infection, as they induce or exacerbate adverse health effects. As the pandemic continues, the Public Housing Emergency Response Act could help mitigate health risks to families living in public housing.

“Our clients and all public housing residents across New York deserve housing that is safe and dignified, and for their homes and buildings to be appropriately repaired in a timely fashion,” said Judith Goldiner, Attorney in Charge, Civil Law Reform Unit, The Legal Aid Society. “The Public Housing Emergency Response Act would help ensure that NYCHA receives the funding necessary to address their repair backlog, and we thank Congresswoman Velazquez for championing the bill." 

“One clear lesson from 2020 is that housing is healthcare. Ensuring that public housing is safe, decent, and affordable for all current and future residents should be a top priority for Congress and the nation," stated Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. "For decades, Congress has turned its back from its obligations to public housing residents, forcing seniors, people with disabilities and families with young children to live in some public housing homes that are in severe disrepair – with mold, no heat or running water, or leaky ceilings and toilets. Congresswoman Velazquez’s bill to invest $70 billion in needed repairs would right this wrong. NLIHC looks forward to working with her and other members of Congress to have this bill enacted."

“NYHC enthusiastically supports Rep. Nydia Velazquez’s Public Housing Emergency Response Act, which will provide urgently needed funding for the nation’s public housing,” said Rachel Fee, Executive Director, New York Housing Conference. “Without this support, New York and localities across the country are at risk of losing public housing, a vital source of affordable housing that supports over one million households nationally, due to neglect. Housing is needed now more than ever and we thank Rep. Velazquez for her leadership.”

"Every New Yorker deserves a safe, healthy and secure place to call home,” said Executive Director of the Red Hook Initiative Morgan Monaco. “Without adequate funding for longstanding capital repairs and routine maintenance, we will continue to fail public housing residents in achieving this essential goal.  Representative Velazquez’s Bill ensures that a federal investment in HUD and NYCHA is prioritized for the maintenance and long term preservation of public housing. NYCHA residents and their families deserve to have access to safe and affordable housing for generations to come." 

“I would like to thank Congresswoman Velazquez for introducing this bill for Public Housing,” said Mrs. Frances Brown, President, Red Hook East Resident Association. “She knows we really need repairs where we live, and we are grateful we can depend on her to fight for us.” 

This bill has been co-sponsored by: Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY); Adriano Espaillat (D-NY); Grace Meng (D-NY); Jerrold Nadler (D-NY); Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY); Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY); Hakeem S. Jeffries (D-NY); Kathleen Rice (D-NY); and Thomas R. Suozzi (D-NY). 

This bill has been endorsed by: National Low-Income Housing Coalition; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); The Legal Aid Society, New York City; New York Housing Conference; Community Service Society; Fifth Avenue Committee; Carroll Gardens Association; Red Hook Community Justice Center/Center for Court Innovation; Red Hook Initiative; Resilient Red Hook; New York State Senators Brian Kavanagh and Julia Salazar; New York Assemblywomen Jo Anne Simon and Maritza Davila; New York City Council Members Brad Lander, Carlos Menchaca, Carlina Rivera and Stephen Levin; Rabbi David Niederman, President, United Jewish Organization of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn; Veronica Wong, Advocacy Director, University Settlement; Ethel Velez, Chairperson, Manhattan North District Council of Presidents; Axia Torres, President, Alfred E. Smith Houses Resident Association; Ed Tyre, President, Gowanus Houses Resident Association; Lillie Marshall, President, Red Hook West Resident Association; Frances Brown, President, Red Hook East Resident Association; Joeann Brown, President, Warren Street Houses Resident Association; and Valerie Bell, President Wyckoff Gardens Resident Association 

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