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Over the past 35 years, many forms of affordable housing - including public hard units and subsidized soft units - have been neglected, converted, and demolished.
  • The supply of affordable housing for lower-income families is not keeping up with demand (and this was true long before the financial crisis hit).
  • Public housing facilities are left to crumble, and, in many cases, have been demolished before there was a plan to replace lost units.
  • Banks and realtors convince policy-makers that housing policy should emphasize moving people into private housing units.
  • Public-private partnerships that were supposed to provide mixed-income housing units fail to deliver.
  • Congress stopped investing in public housing and instead is diverting public subsidies into private developers’ hands with the promise that they would create affordable options for struggling families. This is bad public policy; developers often take the money and run, or neglect their subsidized units and bide their time until they can convert them to ‘market rate’ housing that is out of reach for low to moderate income families.
Racial disparities run through every facet of this crisis. For subsidized and public housing, race plays a historic role, first, in keeping African Americans out of public housing (a common practice in the 1930s through 50s), and then, decades later, in stigmatizing public and subsidized housing because a majority of residents are people of color. Disinvestments in areas with public housing exacerbate racial segregation and concentrations of poverty. Discriminatory lending, race-based covenants, real estate practices such as block-busting and redlining, and development practices that encourage disinvestments in communities of color shape the urban and suburban landscape we see today.

After convincing us that an unfettered financial sector was the best way to run our economy, banks and financial institutions are distorting housing and development policies to suit their narrow interests. The banking system, as it currently operates, has no incentive to reinvest in and help residents rebuild communities. Struggling neighborhoods that made tentative progress over several decades toward revitalization - by reclaiming vacant properties, expanding housing opportunities and getting access to loans for homegrown businesses - are being dealt a harsh blow.
Housing is a social issue, not just a private matter. The current and future wellbeing of our communities and our nation depend upon our solving the housing crisis and preventing future crises.

We need high-quality housing for all in safe and healthy communities where all residents have a say in economic, political and social decisions.

Housing is made available through a variety of public investments (mortgage deductions, vouchers, Section 8, public housing units, etc.). We need both private and public options so as to ensure that housing is available for all.

In order for our homes in public housing to remain viable, a major investment must be made. We will not trade off our basic rights or leave vulnerable the status of public housing as a public asset in order to achieve this. It is eminently possible to embark on a creative way of leveraging private and public dollars to revitalize public housing without giving up on these baseline requirements.

We call on our elected representatives and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to:
  • Expand access to safe and secure housing, including more affordable rentals, opportunities for homeownership, cooperative and collectively owned housing, and quality public and subsidized housing.
  • Inject desperately needed capital funding into our deteriorating public housing stock without massively transferring public assets to the private sector – Any legislation must prohibit involuntary relocation, retain residents' rights to organize, and prohibit the loss of hard affordable public housing units.
  • Address longstanding race and class disparities and economic forces that destabilize low-income communities of color.
  • Build support for alternative development programs that put more resources into the hands of democratic, community-run groups.
  • Enforce and strengthen Section 3 to provide jobs for low-income residents in areas receiving HUD funding.
  • Generate much needed revenue by closing hedge fund corporate tax loopholes, letting the Bush tax cuts expire, creating a financial speculation tax, and raising marginal tax rates for the wealthy.


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