[Congress\Public Housing]
Rep. Omar: “Every American deserves access to a safe and stable place to live, but unfortunately, our current free-market housing system is not meeting the needs of working families. On a single night, over 10,000 people in Minnesota were homeless last year… And that’s just Minnesota.”
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) introduced the Homes for All Act Wednesday, which will dramatically expand the public housing stock in the United States and guarantee housing as a human right.

The bill will authorize construction of 12 million new public housing and private, permanently affordable rental units, driving down costs throughout the market and creating a new vision of what public housing looks like in the U.S.

“Every American deserves access to a safe and stable place to live, but unfortunately, our current free-market housing system is not meeting the needs of working families,” said Rep. Omar. “On a single night, over 10,000 people in Minnesota were homeless last year—the highest number ever recorded. 6,000 of them were youth – which means children are showing up at school without a place to go home to. And this does not include the thousands more who are behind on rent, or are looking for a permanent home after an eviction. And that’s just Minnesota. Across the nation, families are struggling with homelessness and housing insecurity. We need to treat the affordable housing shortage like the crisis that it is. Housing is a fundamental human right. It’s time we as a nation acted like it and end the housing crisis once and for all.”

“Representative Omar’s bill proves that it is possible for every person in the United States to have a stable, affordable place to call home,” said Dianne Enriquez, co-director of community dignity campaigns, Center for Popular Democracy. “Not only does the legislation create 12 million units of affordable housing, it also makes sure that all future funding needs are fully met so that public units do not fall into disrepair. This provision, plus wrap-around services for people experiencing homelessness, would help to end our housing crisis. We are already paying the costs for the affordable housing crisis through skyrocketing rents and a growing homeless population. Instead of allowing our crisis to worsen, let’s invest in the affordable housing we need. I am proud to endorse the Homes for All Act because we need a broad reimagining of our affordable housing system.”

“Everyone living in the United States should have safe, accessible, sustainable, and permanently affordable housing: a Homes Guarantee. Right now, our country falls woefully short of delivering on this promise,” said Tara Raghuveer, Housing Campaign Director for People’s Action. “The housing and homelessness crises are the direct and predictable result of treating housing as a commodity rather than a human right. Representative Omar’s groundbreaking new legislation will, for the first time in a century, address the scale of the housing crisis and prioritize people’s needs over corporations’ profits. The systemic intervention we need includes millions of new public housing units, permanently affordable and off the private market. Representative Omar listens to movement demands and follows the leadership of directly impacted people. This legislation exemplifies the Omar’s bold leadership. This will be the new standard by which progressive housing policy is measured.”

“Housing affordability in the rental market is an essential determinant of whether a family is able to achieve economic stability,” said Michela Zonta, Senior Policy Analyst, Housing Policy at the Center for American Progress. “Yet, the supply of affordable rental units is not sufficient to address the housing needs of a substantial portion of low- and middle-income Americans. Our current federal rental assistance programs continue to fall short of meeting the increasing need for affordable housing. By proposing a “just build it” strategy, the Homes for All Act sets a bold marker for what it would take to ensure millions of Americans have a safe, affordable place to call home. I commend Rep. Ilhan Omar for introducing this bill which will be lifechanging for millions of families.”

The Homes for All Act repeals the Faircloth amendment, allowing the federal government to begin reinvesting in new public housing for the first time since 1990s. The bill will make a historic investment of $800 billion over the course of 10 years with the goal of building 8.5 million new units of public housing. The bill will also invest an additional $200 billion in the Housing Trust Fund to help local communities build 3.5 million new private, permanent affordable housing projects for low and extremely-low income families.

Importantly, the bill makes public housing operating and capital expenses mandatory spending in order to prevent future investment bias. Making this spending mandatory ensures that the funding needs of all current and future public housing are fully met and cannot be cut in the event of a budget crisis or a change in Administration. This simple change in budgetary structure makes a homes guarantee real – ensuring the federal government is committed to this program the same way it is to Social Security and Medicare.

The bill also creates a new Community Control and Anti-Displacement Fund within HUD. This Fund is appropriated $200 billion over 10 years for the purpose of intervening to protect families from gentrification, prevent displacement and stabilize neighborhoods. The Fund will give grants to local governments who design programs that serve this goal – programs that help re-house displaced people, regulate exploitative developers or provide communities with the resources necessary to make a tenants’ right of first refusal an affordable and realistic option.

Fully realized, this proposal will guarantee safe, accessible, sustainable, and permanently-affordable homes for all, create a true public option and affirm housing as a basic human right for every American.

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