Budget Line Item for Public Housing
WHEREAS, public housing is one of the nation's three main rental assistance programs, along with "Section 8" vouchers and project-based rental assistance. Public housing developments provide affordable homes to 2.2 million low-income Americans; and
WHEREAS, the nation's 1.12 million public housing units are located in all 50 states and several territories, nearly one in five of them in rural areas. As of 2008, more than 60 percent of units (based on available data) were in areas with low or moderate poverty rates, meaning that less than 30 percent of residents were poor. Only about a fifth were in areas where at least 40 percent of residents were poor; and
WHEREAS, while the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) oversees the public housing program, it is administered locally by about 3,100 public housing agencies. Most agencies own and manage the public housing developments themselves, but some contract with private management companies or transfer ownership to a private subsidiary or another entity that operates the development under public housing rules; and
WHEREAS, most tenants pay 30 percent of their income (after certain deductions are taken out) for rent and utilities. Housing agencies can choose to require families to pay a minimum rent of up to $50 even if this is more than 30 percent of their income, and families can opt to pay a flat rent based on local market rents regardless of their income; and
WHEREAS, public housing helps families to afford modest housing and avoid homelessness or other kinds of housing instability. Some developments provide access to neighborhoods with stronger schools and more job opportunities, where it might otherwise be difficult for low-income families to rent homes. For frail seniors and people with disabilities, public housing enables them to remain in their home communities and avoid or delay moving into nursing homes or other institutions that are much more costly (for state and federal governments a well as families); and
WHEREAS, public housing can help families avoid housing instability that could make it difficult to find or keep a job. In addition, by limiting housing costs, public housing leaves families with more resources for work expenses like child care and transportation (as well as basic needs like food and medicine). ln 2010, 89 percent of public housing households were elderly, had disabilities, worked, had recently worked, or were subject to work requirements through another program; and
WHEREAS, about 85 percent of public housing units meet or exceed HUD standards for decent, safe housing, but the developments -nearly all of whit.-h were built before 1985 -have accumulated large underlying renovation needs. A 2010 HUD study estimated the total unmet capital need in public housing developments at more than $26 billion; and
WHEREAS, no funds have been provided to build additional public housing since the mid-1990s. Since then, housing agencies have demolished or otherwise removed from the program more than 260,000 units due to deterioration resulting from long-term underfunding and other factors. Agencies have built new units to replace only about one-sixth of those that have been removed; and
WHEREAS, the federal government funds public housing through two main streams: (1) the Public Housing Operating Fund, which is intended to cover the gap between the rents that public housing tenants pay and the developments' operating costs (such as maintenance and security); and (2) the Public Housing Capital Fund, which funds renovation of developments and replacement of items such as appliances and heating and cooling equipment; and
WHEREAS, in addition, the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (which Congress first funded in 2010 and has replaced the similar "HOPE VI" program) provides a small number of grants each year to revitalize distressed public housing developments.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People advocate for increased funding for Public Housing as a line item in Federal, State, and City budgets.
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP will collaborate with other organizations and entities to conduct workshops on the process of engaging elected officials, to accomplish the objectives set forth above.