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HOUSING

Affordable Housing

I have long been a strong supporter of federal programs that provide Americans with affordable housing. During this Congress, I have taken several steps to ensure that these programs continue to afford Americans a safe and decent place to live, including strong support for the Community Development Block Grant program, Section 8 Rental Assistance, and the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program.

Heating Standards

A measure I authored with Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Queens) to protect public housing residents from insufficient heat during winter months was signed into law by President Obama.

The amendment, which the President signed as part of the Housing Opportunity through Modernization Act, requires the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to issue model guidelines for minimum heating requirements at public housing units that receive federal funds. The President signed the Housing Opportunity through Modernization Acton July 29, 2016. The Engel/Meng provision will help ensure that tenants are not forced to endure frigid temperatures in the winter.

We authored the language in response to reports that the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) had, as recently as 2013, shut down boilers in public housing properties unless outside temperatures dropped below 25 degrees Fahrenheit, forcing residents to go without heat during the coldest months of the year. NYCHA is the largest housing agency in the United States. More than 400,000 New Yorkers live in NYCHA buildings, and more than half of those residents live below the poverty line.

As someone who grew up in a New York City housing project, I was shocked and saddened to learn of these reckless and demeaning practices. Every American living in public housing pays rent and, in return, depends on housing authority leadership to fulfill a very reasonable need: a safe and decent shelter.

I will continue working to ensure that public housing residents’ health and safety are protected. 

Finding Affordable Housing

If you’d like to find out whether you qualify for federal housing assistance, please visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) website (www.hud.gov). If you need assistance with casework regarding housing, please call my office at (718) 796-9700.