Washington, DC -- Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY-17) is pleased to announce the removal of a provision that would have denied operations and Section 8 funding for 12,000 public housing units in New York City.  The provision, originally inserted by House Republicans into the FY 2012 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations (T-HUD) bill, was stripped from the bill yesterday. 

In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) federalized 18,000 public housing units nationwide – 12,000 of which were in New York City.  It brought critical federal funding for repairs and infrastructure improvements resulting in safer and more affordable homes for thousands of public housing tenants.  It also helped restore some fiscal stability to the nation’s largest public housing system. 

The Republican provision would have permanently barred these units from receiving federal assistance, leaving thousands without operating, capital and Section 8 funds which they were dependent on. 

“I fought against this provision, along with 10 of my Democratic colleagues.  It is just part of the Republican tone deaf approach to governing where issues which matter greatly to working families – like affordable housing – are at best ignored, but more likely gutted.  Instead, they are focusing on issues which make political points to their Tea Party base and corporate allies.  I believe it is more important to most Americans to have a job, affordable housing, and clean air and healthy food to eat.  I do not think it is a priority to attack public broadcasting, a woman’s right to choose, or to provide even more tax breaks to Big Oil and other job outsourcing companies,” said Rep. Engel.

If the provision remained, it would have cost New York City approximately $65-75 million annually.  ARRA had provided for 18,000 units, with 12,000 were in New York.  In Rep. Engel’s district in the Bronx, the loss of these housing units would have cost 441 in Baychester and 1682 in Marble Hill.

“I find it strange to claim fiscal responsibility when it relates to low-income families, with over one-third being seniors, while continuing to allow for billionaires to enjoy the fruits of the Bush tax cuts.  The Republican maneuver was a spiteful measure which would have prevented these unites from receiving federal funds to help maintain them.  In effect, it would have doomed them into becoming slums.  I am thankful we were able to strip this measure from the bill in the joint House-Senate Conference Committee which worked out the differences between the two versions of the bill,” added Rep. Engel.