Another Silly Progressive Idea: New Green Deal for Public Housing

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via Mike Shedlock

Progressive nonsense is incessant. My hoot of the day is AOC and Bernie Sanders have teamed up for a new green housing deal. I explain where we are and what’s on deck.

Common Dreams is out with another economically insane idea. Please consider AOC, Sanders Renew Fight for Green New Deal for Public Housing.

Backed by dozens of progressive groups and congressional Democrats, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday reintroduced legislation designed to tackle both the affordable housing crisis and the climate emergency.

The New York Democrat and Vermont Independent are leading the renewed fight for the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, which would invest up to $234 billion over a decade into “weatherizing, electrifying, and modernizing our public housing so that it may serve as a model of efficiency, sustainability, and resiliency for the rest of the nation.”

Joining the pair in backing the bill are 55 other House Democrats and Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Peter Welch (D-Vt.).

Markey, who has spearheaded the broader battle for a Green New Deal with Ocasio-Cortez, said that “in the five years since its introduction, Green New Deal advocacy has catapulted environmental justice to the top of the national agenda, helped deliver historic victories, and charted a course for a better future.”

Green Housing Deal Summary

  • 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; and
  • Replenish the public housing capital backlog and repeal the Faircloth Amendment, which limits the construction of new public housing developments.
  • The legislation would also create two grant programs for deep energy retrofits; community workforce development; upgrades to energy efficiency, building electrification, and water quality; community renewable energy generation; recycling; resiliency and sustainability; and climate adaptation and emergency disaster response.

How Much Would This Cost?

AOC says the bill would invest up to $234 billion over a decade into “weatherizing, electrifying, and modernizing our public housing”.

The real goal is everyone has a right to affordable housing.

Don’t kid yourself, the whole policy would cost many trillions of dollars of which $234 billion is not even a down payment.

Once you issue guarantees with government involved costs soar out of sight.

Even most Democrats recognize this. The bill is so idiotic that it only gathered support 7 Senate advocates and 42 House advocates.

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Faircloth Amendment

The real threat is not that the above insanity passes in one fell swoop, but that its starts with a repeal of the Faircloth Amendment, which limits the construction of new public housing developments.

The Faircloth Amendment was a provision of the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998. It amended the Housing Act of 1937, which authorized federal financial assistance to help states and housing authorities provide housing for low-income people. The amendment says, “a public housing agency may not use any of the amounts allocated for the agency from the Capital Fund or Operating Fund for the purpose of constructing any public housing unit, if such construction would result in a net increase from the number of public housing units owned, assisted, or operated by the public housing agency on October 1, 1999, including any public housing units demolished as part of any revitalization effort.” In other words, the amendment prevents housing authorities from ever maintaining more public housing units than they had in 1999.

The amendment was named for its sponsor, Republican Senator Lauch Faircloth, a successful hog farmer from South Carolina who served one term in the Senate, from 1993-1999.

The Faircloth Amendment, and the rest of the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act, were enacted amid a broader movement for welfare reform that was pushed by Congressional Republicans and co-signed by the Clinton White House in the 1990s. The movement was grounded in a belief that public assistance programs were detrimental to people’s ability to achieve economic independence, and that welfare recipients themselves were either overly dependent on the government or outright abusers of taxpayer money. Most lawmakers saw public housing complexes as crime-infested, unhealthy places that kept people trapped in poverty. Running against Clinton in 1996, former Republican Senator Bob Dole, said that public housing was “one of the last bastions of socialism in the world,” and called for its elimination.

“It was essentially viewed as a failed program,” says Susan J. Popkin, director of the Urban Institute’s Housing Opportunities and Services Together (HOST) Initiative and author of a series of books about public housing in Chicago and around the country.

Since the 1980s, the restriction of federal funding has had a much bigger impact on public housing than the Faircloth Amendment. The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates that the U.S. loses around 10,000 public-housing units a year to demolition or disposition because of accumulated maintenance issues.

As Jenny Schuetz argued in her recent post on the Brookings Institution website, the Faircloth Amendment is only a paper obstacle to an expansion of public housing. Other obstacles include the availability of land zoning rules that prevent the development of any new housing in many areas, and existing housing authorities’ relative ineffectiveness as real estate developers, she wrote.

But the biggest challenge to expanding public housing is a lack of federal funding. The Green New Deal for Public Housing, a proposal introduced in Congress in 2019 by Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders, calls for the federal government to spend $180 billion repairing and retrofitting every existing public housing unit in the U.S. Restoring the 200,000 public-housing units that have been lost would require billions in federal spending and an abrupt departure from the trend of pulling away from publicly owned housing, even without repealing the Faircloth Amendment. Politically, though, repealing the amendment could be powerfully symbolic. As Ross Barkan wrote in the New York Times, “repeal would be a vital signal that America is back in the business of expanding public housing.”

Urban Institute Research

The Faircloth Amendment is one the best amendments in history. Thank you Senator Lauch Faircloth!

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Yet, the amendment is somewhat symbolic.

According to research from the Urban Institute, there were 2,156,625 people living in 1,067,387 public housing units as of 2016, and Popkin says the U.S. has around 200,000 fewer public-housing units than it did in the mid-1990s. Many housing authorities have un-funded maintenance and rehabilitation needs, including the New York City Housing Authority, which needs to spend an estimated $45.2 billion in the next twenty years just to keep its existing units habitable.

The Philadelphia Housing Authority is limited to 20,133 units but only owns around 14,000 units. The Chicago Housing Authority is limited to 35,453 units but maintains fewer than 21,000. The Housing Authority of the City of Atlanta owns 3,500 units out of an allowed 11,965.

Government is the Problem

We do not need the government back in the public housing business. The costs of government programs soars out of sight.

New York with its damn rent control legislation needs to spend $45.2 billion in the next twenty years just to keep its existing units habitable.

Let New York and Chicago fix their own self-made problems. Federal and sate governments are the problem, not the solution to any alleged housing crisis.

Congratulations to NY, IL, and CA

Meanwhile, congratulations are owed to anyone voting with their feet to get out of socialist hellholes.

For discussion, please see Congratulations to NY, IL, LA, and CA for Losing the Most Population

Absolute Basis Losers

  • New York: -631,104
  • California: -573,019
  • Illinois: -263,780
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