Democrats Propose $300 Billion Investment to Treat Housing as Human Right

Common Dreams – By Julia Conley – Mar 23, 2023

“In the richest country in the world, it is a moral imperative that we take this issue head-on,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal.

Declaring that homelessness and housing insecurity is the result of “a structural failure of a country that has refused to make safe and affordable housing a priority,” U.S. Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Grace Meng on Wednesday reintroduced the Housing is a Human Right Act and called on the federal government to provide $300 billion to end the crisis facing unhoused people.

The legislation would invest more than $200 billion in affordable housing and support services, $27 billion annually for services for unhoused people, and $100 million per year for community-driven alternatives to people experiencing homelessness.

Other funds would go to support communities at heightened risk for homelessness.

“Housing is a human right, and nobody in the world should be without a place to call home, especially not in America,” said Meng (D-N.Y.). “This is an issue that impacts individuals for a number of reasons and sometimes isn’t fixed with just a physical roof above a person’s head.”

The bill was reintroduced as real estate website released an analysis showing that even for people who have a place to live, housing is becoming more precarious across the United States.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recommends that people spend less than 30% of their income on housing, but eight of the country’s top 50 metropolitan areas now have “a rent share higher than 30% relative to the median household income,” including Miami, Los Angeles, New York, and San Diego.

Even in more affordable cities renters are spending more, with the average monthly rent in Cincinnati, Ohio costing 19.4% of the average monthly income—up from 18.4% last year. In Birmingham, Alabama, renters spend an average of 22.2% of their income on housing.

“As costs have risen and the minimum wage has stagnated, it would take the average minimum wage worker more than 96 hours of work per week to afford a two-bedroom rental,” noted Jayapal (D-Wash.).

The shrinking stock of affordable housing is linked to the crisis of homelessness, which more than half a million people in the U.S. experienced in 2022—up by 3% from 2020.

“The crisis of housing instability is one that can be fixed by investing in housing infrastructure and supportive services for vulnerable communities,” said Jayapal.

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Posted by Teri Perticone


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