New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders on Thursday unveiled their Green New Deal for Public Housing Act – a sweeping piece of legislation that would invest heavily in the repair and decarbonization of public housing communities.
“Today we are focusing on an issue that is too often neglected,” Sanders, a leading Democratic presidential candidate, said during a joint press conference with Ocasio-Cortez on Capitol Hill.
“We are going to be making massive cuts in carbon emissions by retrofitting and rebuilding public housing in this country … Our public housing stock has been neglected for far too long.”
Evoking the legacy of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal program, the Green New Deal is a broad policy framework for major public investment in renewable infrastructure to combat the climate crisis.
The new bill would invest $180 billion over the next ten years to retrofit, repair, and decarbonize every public housing unit in the country through federal grants offered to states. It also includes measures to expand access to clean transit and build amenities such as childcare and senior centers as well as community gardens and other amenities in public housing communities.
Our leaders have neglected + forgotten public housing for decades.
Millions are forced to choose between living in homes with toxic mold and unreliable heat, or sleeping on the street.
— Sunrise Movement 🌅 (@sunrisemvmt) November 14, 2019
“We understand that good policy can only be effective if the implementation of that policy is just and inclusive,” Kari Fulton, an organizer with the Climate Justice Alliance, said.
“A Green New Deal for public housing must uphold the rights of residents to stay in our revitalized communities … the best way to ensure this bill is effective is to include establishing and maintaining local residential control.”
According to Data for Progress, the bill would create over 200,000 jobs every year, substantially reduce public housing water and energy bills, and cut annual carbon emissions by 5.6 million tons – the equivalent of taking 1.2 million cars off the road. The legislation requires strong labor standards for the added jobs with high prevailing wages.
“We are going to put hundreds of thousands of people to work in good-paying jobs and give that preference to public housing residents,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “This is how we show that tackling the climate crisis is an opportunity for us to create an economic stimulus and an economic boom not just for Wall Street, but for working people.”
Data for Progress also conducted surveys in September and November indicating the proposals outlined in the bill have net positive support, 46 percent in favor to 35 percent against.