Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN-05) new “Homes for All Act” would cost more than $1 trillion over a 10-year period and has a goal of building 12 million “public and affordable” housing units.
The bill would “dramatically expand the public housing stock in the United States and guarantee housing as a human right,” Omar’s office said in a Wednesday press release announcing the bill.
“Every American deserves access to a safe and stable place to live, but unfortunately, our current free-market housing system is not meeting the needs of working families,” Omar said in a statement. “On a single night, over 10,000 people in Minnesota were homeless last year—the highest number ever recorded. 6,000 of them were youth – which means children are showing up at school without a place to go home to.”
The first-term congresswoman said families across the nation are “struggling with homelessness and housing insecurity” and declared housing a “fundamental human right.”
“It’s time we as a nation acted like it and end the housing crisis once and for all,” she continued, noting that her bill would repeal the 1937 Faircloth Amendment, which limits the construction of new public housing units.
“The bill will make a historic investment of $800 billion over the course of 10 years with the goal of building 8.5 million new units of public housing. The bill will also invest an additional $200 billion in the Housing Trust Fund to help local communities build 3.5 million new private, permanent affordable housing projects for low and extremely-low income families,” Omar’s office said of the bill.
The Homes for All Act would make public housing expenses mandatory spending in the federal budget in order to “prevent future investment bias” and ensure that “the funding needs of all current and future public housing are fully met and cannot be cut in the event of a budget crisis or a change in administration.”
“This simple change in budgetary structure makes a homes guarantee real – ensuring the federal government is committed to this program the same way it is to Social Security and Medicare,” her office elaborated.
On top of the $1 trillion for new housing units, Omar’s bill would create a new “Community Control and Anti-Displacement Fund” within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This fund would receive a $200 billion appropriation over a 10-year period, making the total cost of the bill $1.2 trillion.
Her bill was endorsed by representatives from the Center for Popular Democracy, People’s Action, and the Center for American Progress.
“Representative Omar’s bill proves that it is possible for every person in the United States to have a stable, affordable place to call home,” said Dianne Enriquez, co-director of community dignity campaigns for the Center for Popular Democracy. “Not only does the legislation create 12 million units of affordable housing, it also makes sure that all future funding needs are fully met so that public units do not fall into disrepair. This provision, plus wrap-around services for people experiencing homelessness, would help to end our housing crisis.”
No one in the wealthiest county in the world should be forced to sleep on the streets.
Today I am introducing the Homes for All Act, a bold 21st century vision to build 12 million new public & affordable housing units and guarantee housing as a human right. #HomesforAll pic.twitter.com/muWeTfnqLT
— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) November 21, 2019
Minnesota Rep. Michael Howard (DFL-Richfield), the vice chair of the Minnesota House Housing Finance and Policy Committee, expressed his support for the bill in a statement Thursday.
“We need bold solutions if we are to meet the crisis facing Minnesota families who cannot afford their homes, and Congresswoman Omar’s plan is the kind of bold thinking we need at all levels of government,” he said. “Every Minnesotan should have access to housing stability. This aspirational goal is within reach, but only if we take an all-hands-on-deck approach to our housing crisis and take urgent action across the continuum of housing.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Background Photo “Housing Units” by USAG-Humphreys. CC BY 2.0.