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  • Writer's pictureKaren Young

Sanders, AOC aim to move “Overton window” with public housing push

Welcome to Team Tuesday!

Until President Biden mentioned housing during his State of the Union address recently, I felt sure the subject wouldn’t even be mentioned during this Presidential campaign.  Glad I was wrong!

As Politico said, “It’s the latest sign that Democrats across the ideological spectrum are zeroing in on housing as an under-addressed issue that could carry a huge upside politically.” A Moody’s analyst commented to CBS News that “housing affordability has become a key issue for Americans spanning all demographics and political divides.” You think?

Biden actually has some policies targeting low-income people and renters, but in his address, he highlighted plans targeting middle class homeowners.  He talked about a $10,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers, and a $10,000 credit for current homeowners who sell their "starter home" in order to jump into a bigger house.  This could potentially help with the current lack of homes for sale, due to people’s unwillingness to let go of their 3% interest rates for a new home at 7 or 8%.

Sanders, AOC, 55 other House members and 7 senators put forward a much more ambitious “Green New Deal” for public housing.  Politico said, “the goal isn’t simply to pass the legislation; it’s to have the fight and pull the Overton window to the left — reshaping the contours of the conversation about housing in America in the process.”

Green New Deal for Housing: Clean up mold, build senior centers, much more

The bill’s single biggest policy change is that it would repeal the Faircloth Amendment. This rule, passed in 1999, has effectively blocked the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) from funding ANY new public housing.  (Anyone who’s been on a waiting list for public housing knows how this worked out.)

  • Invest up to $234 billion over ten years to transition the entire public housing stock in the US (900,000 units) into zero-carbon, highly energy-efficient homes.

  • Ensure all public housing is brought up to safe, sanitary, and sustainable conditions.

  • Support families and sustainable communities by building new child care and senior centers, expanding access to clean transportation, and creating community gardens and other community investments.

  • Expand federal programs to provide residents with meaningful work investing in their own communities and facilitate resident-owned and operated businesses.

  • Expand resident councils so that public housing residents have a seat at the table for important decisions regarding their homes.

  • Create nearly 300,000 good-paying jobs.

The right always thinks big.  It’s great to see the left putting forward some big and bold ideas, too.  Let’s keep showing people our vision of the future.

The legislation is endorsed by more than 70 organizations including:


National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), National Housing Law Project, National Health Care for the Homeless Council, Movement For Black Lives, Alliance for Housing Justice, People’s Action/Homes Guarantee Campaign, National Domestic Workers Alliance, United Auto Workers (UAW) Region 9A, American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Sunrise Movement, Public Citizen, NextGen America, Make The Road New York.

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