Sen. Bernard Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Thursday are introducing legislation that calls for a guaranteed right to housing and would put up to $180 billion over 10 years toward retrofitting and cutting carbon emissions in federal public housing.
The legislation would amend federal law to say it’s the policy of the U.S. to use federal funds and the credit of the country “to guarantee the right to housing for every individual” - an expansive view of government reach reflected in their “Green New Deal” to combat climate change.
The bill provides money for solar panels and renewable energy resources to power public housing, and calls for a federal-state partnership for new grant programs to transition public housing into more energy-efficient units.
“This bill shows that we can address our climate and affordable housing crises by making public housing a model of efficiency, sustainability and resiliency,” said Mr. Sanders, a Vermont Independent who is seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
The legislation is intended to transition the “entire public housing stock” in the country “as swiftly and seamlessly as possible” into “zero-carbon, highly energy-efficient developments,” according to a summary of the bill.
Mr. Sanders‘ office estimated that the bill would create almost 250,000 jobs per year that would be subject to strong labor standards and “Buy America” provisions.
“Climate change represents both a grave threat and a tremendous opportunity,” said Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, New York Democrat. “The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act will train and mobilize the workforce to decarbonize the public housing stock and improve the quality of life for all residents.”
Data for Progress, a progressive think tank, estimated that the retrofits of more than 1 million public housing units would cost between $119 billion and $172 billion and that the bill would create up to 240,723 jobs per year.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, one of Mr. Sanders‘ top rivals for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, is a co-sponsor of the bill.
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