Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) introduced on November 14 the “Green New Deal for Public Housing Act,” (S. 2876) which would create new HUD grant programs to rehabilitate and upgrade public housing to decrease health hazards and improve energy-efficiency. The bill aims to move public housing toward renewable energy sources and provide economic opportunities and workforce development for residents, including through improvements to HUD’s Section 3 obligation.
NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel with Senator Sanders and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez at “Green New Deal for Public Housing Act” press event
“On behalf of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, I applaud Senator Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for their bold, ambitious proposal to not only help preserve America’s public housing for current and future residents, but to modernize these homes to 21st century green standards, while also helping to ensure that low-income residents benefit from green job and training opportunities,” stated NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel in support of the bill. “We must build the political will to combat both the affordable housing and climate change crises – both of which severely harm the lowest-income people, people of color, seniors, people with disabilities, people experiencing homelessness and others – and I thank Senator Sanders and Representative Ocasio-Cortez for their innovative, holistic vision for green affordable housing in America.”
The bill would create seven new grant programs that public housing agencies (PHAs), tribes or tribally designated housing entities, and Native Hawaiian housing entities can apply for under a single application. Some grants focus on workforce development while others address building and unit upgrades such has energy-efficient windows, improved insulation, pipe replacement to improve water quality, and new appliances. Grant programs would also facilitate community energy generation in public housing to make public housing energy self-sufficient and empower residents to vote to determine how to utilize any profits.
The bill would also provide resources for recycling and zero-waste programs as well as for improvements to make buildings more resilient to disasters and climate-related hazards. Another grant program would provide funding to improve and expand communal spaces in public housing, including creating community gardens and building childcare and senior centers, installing high-speed internet, and increasing access to goods and services, such as on-site medical clinics.
The bill adds hiring requirements specific to these Green New Deal programs to HUD’s existing Section 3 obligation, which requires recipients of HUD funds for public housing and other housing and community development construction projects to provide preference for job training, employment, and contracting opportunities for low- and very low-income residents, as well as eligible businesses. The proposal would require that the number of low- and very-low income individuals working in jobs generated from these grant dollars to reach 90% of the total jobs three years after receipt of the funds. The total contract amounts awarded to public housing resident-owned businesses must reach 50% after three years.
The Senate bill is at: https://tinyurl.com/susc695
The House version of the bill is not yet available.
A media release is at: https://bit.ly/2CKBuN0