WASHINGTON, D.C. — If a piece of legislation recently introduced by Illinois Democratic senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth were to become law, it would mean more than $100 billion invested in both public housing and various programs meant to provide affordable housing.

The Illinois senators were joined by California Democrat and presidential primary candidate Sen. Kamala Harris in introducing the Housing is Infrastructure Act. The bill would place $70 billion into the PublicHousing Capital Fund, which goes toward building, modernizing and rehabilitating public housing. About $6 billion would be dedicated to elderly households, those with disabilities and Americans living on tribal lands. About $5 billion would go to the National Housing Trust Fund for construction of “hundreds of thousands” of rental units for the lowest income households. The Rural Multi-Family Preservation and Revitalization Demonstration program would receive $1 billion to address a backlog of payments for Section 515 and Section 514 rural housing stocks. The HOME Investment Partnership Program will receive $5 billion for rebuilding and rehabilitating affordable using for low-income families, and $10 billion each will be allocated to Community Development Block Grants and the Capital Magnet Fund.

A recent report by ProPublica underscored the fact that nine East St. Louis public housing facilities received a failing score during inspections. Those facilities had 5,405 safety violations, 24 percent of which were deemed to be life threatening to residents. President Trump’s administration called for deep cuts to the Fiscal Year 2020 budget from Housing and Urban Development’s Public Housing Capital Fund.

“For many families living in public housing across the country, their buildings are in disrepair,” Durbin said. “For too long, the federal government has shirked its responsibility to make adequate funding available to address the conditions of our rapidly deteriorating public housing stock. This bill is a commitment to make critical federal investments that would ensure all Americans have access to safe and healthy housing.”

“It’s unacceptable that any Illinoisan—that any American—living in public housing finds themselves in units that are crumbling or unsafe,” said Duckworth. “Children and families rely on investments like these that help improve housing conditions, increase security and reduce homelessness. With the Trump Administration seeking to eliminate this critical funding source entirely and make this problem worse, our new proposal will actually make important investments to significantly reduce the critical repair backlog in public housing and keep families safe. I’m proud to join Senators Harris and Durbin to introduce it.”

Senate Bill 2951 was introduced on Nov. 21. It can be tracked online at: https://bit.ly/2Y6guu9.

 

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