Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders, Ramirez Reintroduce The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act

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View press conference here.

Washington, D.C. – RealEstateRama – Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Rep. Delia Ramirez (IL-03) reintroduced the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act in partnership with public housing residents, affordable housing advocates, and climate change activists. The sweeping legislation aims to retrofit, rehabilitate, expand, and decarbonize the entire nation’s public housing stock through an estimated $162 to $234 billion investment over the next ten years.

“Years of grassroots organizing on behalf of vulnerable Americans led to the creation of the first federal public housing units but for decades the federal government has allowed our limited public housing stock to fall into disrepair. Residents are dealing with mold growth, lead-based paint hazards, lack of central cooling and heating, failing water infrastructure, and numerous other safety concerns. It is beyond time for the federal government to take responsibility and pass legislation that offers comprehensive, public solutions,” said Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez. “The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act will allow for an increase in public housing units, create an estimated 280,000 jobs, and invest up to $23 billion a year over ten years for highly energy-efficient developments. This will produce on-site renewable energy, expand workforce capacity, and focus on community development. Every American deserves to live in a safe, vibrant, and environmentally conscious community — including public housing residents. I am confident this legislation is how we make that a reality.”

“In these difficult times, we must move forward boldly to address the systemic and existential crises facing us today and that includes urgently combating climate change and making sure every American has a safe and decent place to call home,” said Senator Sanders. “It is unacceptable that, on a single given night in America, over 650,000 people are homeless. It is unacceptable that, in the richest country in the history of the world, people are choosing between paying rent and putting food on the table. It is unacceptable that our nation’s public housing is in a state of chronic disrepair and energy inefficiency after generations of government neglect. It is unacceptable that we have not done more to transform our energy systems, our communities, and our infrastructure away from fossils and toward renewable energy. This legislation is a major step in the right direction, and I am proud to partner with Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez in introducing it today.”

“Safe, sustainable, resilient, affordable housing is a HUMAN RIGHT, plain and simple. The policies we advance in Congress must help us realize that truth for EVERYONE. As our nation reckons with both a worsening housing crisis and urgent climate crisis, we must fight for and realize bold policy action and investment,” said Congresswoman Delia Ramirez. “I am proud to stand with Representative Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Sanders to introduce legislation that will secure the future of our public housing, prioritize climate and racial justice, and boost our economy and labor force. The Green New Deal for Public Housing is a bold solution to confront unprecedented challenges.”

The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act would transition the entire public housing stock of the United States, as swiftly and seamlessly as possible, into zero-carbon, highly energy-efficient developments that produce on-site renewable energy, expand workforce capacity and family self-sufficiency programs, and focus on community development.

Specifically, the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act would: 

  • Expand federal programs to provide residents with meaningful work investing in their communities, to own and operate resident businesses, to move toward financial independence, and to participate in the management of public housing.
  • Expand resident councils so that public housing residents have a seat at the table for important decisions regarding their homes.
  • Replenish the public housing capital backlog and repeal the Faircloth Amendment, which limits the construction of new public housing developments.

Additionally, the bill would create two grant programs under one application process to modernize our public housing stock through:

  • Deep energy retrofits to increase energy savings in all 970,000 public housing units;
  • Addressing community workforce development needs by prioritizing good-paying job opportunities for residents;
  • Energy efficiency, building electrification, and water quality upgrades;
  • Community renewable energy generation, the profits of which will be controlled by Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) to boost their coffers and increase self-sufficiency;
  • Recycling;
  • Community resiliency and sustainability;
  • Climate adaptation and emergency disaster response.

“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 Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “We must combat the affordable housing crisis and climate change – both of which most harm people of color and people with the lowest incomes – through innovative, holistic and bold visions like the Green New Deal for Public Housing.”

“AFSCME proudly endorses the “Green New Deal for Public Housing Act” (GND4PHA) and we thank Sen. Sanders and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Ramirez for leading and championing this bills to invest in and green public housing. AFSCME endorses GND4PHA because it supports public housing residences, residents struggling to make ends meet, our environment, and PHA employees,” said Paul Wallace, Maintenance Technician, and President of AFSCME Local 647 representing AFSCME union members at the Baltimore City Housing Agency. “Working families and low-income renters need this bill & its increased funding to repair, modernize, and green America’s public housing; increase energy efficiency; and slow down climate change. We support it creating new high road jobs and strengthening jobs programs, helping with tenant initiatives, job training, and apprenticeships. We are working with housing and environmental advocates to enact it to ensure families live in safe, decent, affordable housing permanently there for our kids and grandkids.”

“The Center for Popular Democracy Action is proud to support the Green New Deal for Public Housing to invest in strengthening existing public housing, while building green social housing for the future — and creating nearly 280,000 quality jobs in the process,” said Analilia Mejia and DaMareo Cooper, Co-Executive Directors of the Center for Popular Democracy Action. “We are in the midst of one of the worst housing crises in our nation’s history. It’s the inevitable result of a real estate industry that sees our housing stock as dollar signs. It doesn’t have to be this way.”

“This bill is unique because it invests not only in our units and development but also in us as residents. No other bill prioritizes workforce development, intergenerational investment as our older adults age in place, subsidized resident-owned businesses, and an emphasis on resiliency — since many public housing communities live in climate-vulnerable areas, which are especially susceptible to extreme weather events,” said Jasmin Sanchez, New York City Housing Authority and Climate Organizer. “It is also essential to emphasize that residents’ concerns revolve around the backlog of repairs, which prompts them to decide on short-term fixes. The Green New Deal for Public Housing creates a necessary pathway to allocate money to address the capital backlog in public housing.”

“Green City Force applauds this commitment to putting public housing first and on a path towards a just transition and more thriving communities,” said Tonya Gayle, Executive Director of Green City Force. “For the past 15 years, Green City Force has been the Civilian Climate Corps of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). We train young resident leaders to power a clean and inclusive economy through service. We are fully aligned with the priorities of the Green New Deal for Public Housing. NYCHA is a city within a city filled with talent and wisdom that is best positioned to inform solutions to the problems of climate change and environmental justice inflicted on frontline communities.”

“Mothers on the Move / Madres en Movimiento is thrilled to endorse The Green New Deal for Public Housing, a giant step towards recognizing the needs and solutions of public housing residents. For over 20 years we have organized tenant associations that have called for job opportunities to improve our derelict housing conditions. We are on the front lines of climate change, facing extreme heat, poor air quality, blackouts, food shortages and flooding,” said Wanda Salaman, Executive Director of Mothers on the Move / Madres en Movimiento. The Green New Deal for Public Housing will direct money towards tangible solutions for our most vulnerable, and open pathways out of poverty and into health and resilience.”

“The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act will revitalize our neglected public housing system and help house those struggling in today’s failed rental market,” said Andreina Kniss, Project Manager for Alliance for Housing Justice. “Tenants across the U.S. have called on the federal government to take bold action to address the housing crisis—this bill answers that call by expanding and improving the country’s public housing and brings us a step closer to building a comprehensive social housing system that truly serves all our needs.”

“Public housing is an essential source of stable and affordable housing for 1.6 million Americans, and our research shows we are rapidly losing units to conversions, demolitions, and deterioration,” said Kira McDonald of Climate and Community Project. “This legislation would constitute decisive action to stave this loss and transform living conditions for public housing residents. In doing so, it would improve residents’ health, safety, help eliminate carbon emissions, and help build the new green industries we need to decarbonize.”

“The concerted effort from our government to disinvest in our public institutions over the years has created generational oppression for our most vulnerable communities, especially public housing tenants,” said Ilona Duverge, co-founder of Movement School. “From toxic lead paint, to mold infestation, to heat and water outages, public housing is facing a humanitarian crisis. The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act is the only solution big and bold enough to resolve the deep issues we face with public housing in America.”

“The Green New Deal for Public Housing is going to change the game for those of us and our neighbors who are being hit hardest by the climate crisis,” said Saul Levin, Legislative and Political Director at the Green New Deal Network. “Together, we will build state-of-the-art public housing that people are excited to live in – and create green union jobs and renewable energy at scale along the way. This bill would be a big step toward the gorgeous public infrastructure that will turn the safe and thriving communities of the Green New Deal into a reality!”

Senate Cosponsors: Blumenthal, Booker, Markey, Merkley, Padilla, Warren, Welch

House Cosponsors: Ramirez, Balint, Barragán, Blumenauer, Bowman, Boyle, Bush, Carter, Casar, Clarke, Cohen, D. Davis, Dingell, Espaillat, Frost, C. Garcia, R. Garcia, Goldman, Gomez, Grijalva, Norton, Huffman, Ivey, J. Jackson, Jayapal, H. Johnson, Khanna, B. Lee, S. Lee, Lieu, McCollum, McGovern, Meeks, Meng, Mullin, Nadler, Napolitano, Omar, Pingree, Pressley, Raskin, Sánchez, Schakowsky, A. Smith, Stansbury, Suozzi, Swalwell, Thanedar, Tlaib, Tonko, R. Torres, Velázquez, Watson-Coleman, F. Wilson

Endorsements: American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), National Housing Law Project, National Health Care for the Homeless Council, Center for Popular Democracy Action, National Homelessness Law Center, Alliance for Housing Justice, People’s Action/Homes Guarantee Campaign, Save Section 9, American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Movement For Black Lives, The Black Hive, MoveOn, National Domestic Workers Alliance, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, The Debt Collective, United Auto Workers (UAW) Region 9A, Oil Change International, Green New Deal Network, Sunrise Movement, Gen-Z For Change, Public Citizen, Climate and Community Project, Labor Network for Sustainability, Food & Water Watch, National Wildlife Federation, CommonDefense.us, NextGen America, NLIHC’s 2022-2023 Collective Cohort, Care in Action, Liberation In A Generation, Partners for Dignity and Rights, Inner City Green Team Economic and Environmental Development, NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, Housing Justice For All, Make The Road New York, Make The Road Nevada, Make The Road Connecticut, The Point CDC, Citizen Action of New York, New York Communities for Change, VOCAL NY, ALIGN NY, NYC-DSA, Churches United for Fair Housing (CUFFH), Long Island Progressive Coalition, Indiana Tenants Association, California Green New Deal Coalition, Care In Action, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Granite State Organizing Project, Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance, 350 Bay Area Action, For The Many, Three Bridges Democratic Club, ACCE Action, Fuerte Arts Movement, Community Bridges Inc.-Tennessee, Georgia Advancing Communities Together Inc., Granite State Organizing Project, Windham Mills Tenant Union, Thrive North Carolina, Action NC, Garden Club of Windham, Alliance 85, 198 Methods, Who Speaks For Me?, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, Innovative JOBS Solutions LLC., Nashville Davidson County COC CAB Chair.

Read the legislative text here

Read the one-pager here.

Read a section by section breakdown here.

Read The Climate And Community Project’s 2024 report on The Case for a Green New Deal for Public Housing here

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