Green New Deal for Public Housing

Until now the Green New Deal was a framework to address climate change, but details/legislation hadn’t been introduced. Today, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders released their Public Housing #GreenNewDeal Act. It would:

  • Improve housing for millions of low-income residents
  • Create 240,000 jobs
  • Cut carbon emissions as much as taking 1.2 million cars off the road

The bill from the two progressive firebrands places a sharp focus on decarbonizing the nation’s public housing units.

The proposal calls for an investment of $180 billion over 10 years to sustainably retrofit and repair public housing with the goal of eliminating all carbon emissions. The housing units would meet the zero-emissions goal through the use of solar panels and renewable energy sources.

The lawmakers say the legislation would not only cut the carbon footprint of the country’s fleet of housing units but enrich the lives of their inhabitants.

Energy consumption in residential and commercial buildings make up nearly 40 percent of all energy use in the U.S. Shrinking the footprint of buildings has been a big area of focus for those seeking to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. 

Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders unveil $180B Green New Deal public housing plan By Miranda Green, The Hill, 11/14/2019

The bill, dubbed the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, would use seven grant programs to upgrade housing units into carbon-neutral communities with organic grocery stores, on-site child care and community gardens. Residents of public housing would be given preference in hiring to renovate those units.

The country hasn’t added new public housing in decades, and 42 percent of the current stock hasn’t been updated since 1975, according to the Urban Institute. About 15 percent of the stock is in 100- or 500-year floodplains, making it vulnerable to severe weather events, according to the D.C.-based think tank.

“Public housing is one area of our infrastructure that’s in immediate crisis that is actually threatening people’s lives,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “It’s a perfect place for us to reimagine what a progressive economic agenda can do, particularly with a Green New Deal context.”

Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders pitch Green New Deal bill for public housing.The $100 billion plan would overhaul 1 million public housing units, making them energy-independent within 10 years.By Renae Merle and David Weigel, The Washington Post, 11/14/2019

The so-called Green New Deal for Public Housing Act marks one of the boldest efforts yet to legislate the Green New Deal movement that, since its debut in mainstream politics with a series of protests a year ago, has reframed the global climate policy debate, providing a popular alternative to the market-friendly dogma that’s dominated Western politics for decades.

Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez Unveil $172 Billion ‘Green New Deal For Public Housing’. Though unlikely to pass, the bill offers a glimpse of how a policy to slash climate-changing emissions can reduce poverty and racial inequality by Alexander C. Kaufm, HUFFPOST, 11/14/2019

Let’s make it happen:

To: US Senate and House
From: [Your Name]
Dear Members of Congress,
We are in the midst of a climate emergency and an affordable housing crisis.
The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders, presents a once in a generation opportunity to address both of these issues at once.
Safe and affordable homes are the foundation for prosperity. When we weatherize, electrify and modernize our public housing, it will serve as a model of efficiency, sustainability and resiliency for the rest of the country.
We are calling on you to cosponsor Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Green New Deal for Public Housing Act to guarantee quality, affordable housing and a stable climate for Americans.
Retrofitting these buildings will save money by boosting energy efficiency and improve the quality of life for residents. While we bail out banks, fight endless wars, and give massive subsidies to the oil and gas industry, hundreds of thousands of low-income Americans are living in public housing buildings that expose them to toxic, inhumane conditions.
In the richest country in the world, no one should have to choose between a home that is giving their kids asthma or cancer and no home at all.
We’re asking you to cosponsor this new Public Housing Bill and take the first step to begin the decade of the Green New Deal.


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