Your Take: We Call These Projects Home
Public housing is in danger of extinction at a time when it is most needed.
Unfortunately, current government policies continue to move in the wrong direction. For example, no funds have been provided to build new public housing since the mid-1990s. And the economic stimulus package passed last year provided for only $4 billion to public-housing needs, compared with $1.1 trillion for bank bailouts.
We need immediate and longer-term change. We Call These Projects Home puts forth a new vision for public housing that recognizes and elevates its strengths, and finds ways to make it better by increasing funding, maintaining communities and empowering residents. For example, Congress can and should immediately change the law that prevents the building of new public housing. Congress also should pass the Together We Care Act, a bill introduced by Reps. Barney Frank, Nydia Velazquez and Maxine Waters that would create jobs and increase access to services for public-housing residents. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) should push to fully fund resident participation, and purposefully direct these funds toward opportunities for residents to be provided with the ability to be decision-makers regarding their own homes.
As HUD is poised to introduce "Transforming Rental Assistance" to Congress, an initiative aimed at sweeping reforms to public housing namely by opening it up to the private market, We Call These Projects Home comes at no better time. Through it, RTTC has provided a vehicle for the resident perspective to be heard. Now the question is: Will the closed corridors of Washington, D.C., finally be opened enough to listen to these voices? Let's hope they are before it's too late and we unleash the nation's greatest housing resource to the throes of the market.
Bill Quigley is legal director at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York. Tony Romano is lead organizer for Right to the City Alliance.