Senator Warren to Address Public Housing Capital-Needs Backlog

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) recently announced that she will introduce a Senate companion bill to Representative Nydia Velazquez’s (D-NY) “Public Housing Emergency Response Act,” which was introduced in the House in September. The bill would create a one-time, $70 billion appropriation into the Public Housing Capital Fund to address the estimated $70 billion backlog of maintenance and repairs in public housing.

Senator Warren’s press release announcing the companion bill highlights the fact that America's housing affordability crisis means 31 percent of all American households are classified as cost burdened—meaning they pay more than 30 percent of their incomes to rent their homes, making it challenging to afford other necessities; and that a person working full time making minimum wage cannot afford fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the United States. And for low-income Americans, the problem is even worse. Today, there are only 37 affordable and available homes for every 100 extremely low-income households, which is why it’s vitally important to preserve existing affordable housing, including 1.2 million units of public housing.

However, because of years of chronic underfunding, there’s an estimated $70 billion backlog of repairs to the existing public housing stock. As a result, approximately 10,000 units are lost every year and tens of thousands of residents live in unsafe and unhealthy conditions.