Faith Leaders Call on Washington Leaders for Renewed Public Housing Efforts

Fifty faith-based leaders, including JCUA Executive Director Jane Ramsey, gathered in Washington, D.C. July 29 to voice their concerns on the state of the nation’s public housing with Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan.

At the forefront of the discussion were concerns with newly introduced HUD legislation would call for moving public housing units to the private sector. The Preservation, Enhancement, and Transformation of Rental Assistance Act of 2010 (PETRA) would be:

“A multi-year effort to transform properties with rental assistance contracts under various programs into properties with long-term, property-based sustainable rental assistance contracts that include flexibility to address capital requirements, to enhance resident choice, and to streamline and simplify the administration of rental assistance.”

-Department of Housing and Urban Development

Hud Secretary Shaun Donovan

From a Chicagoan standpoint, the words “transform” or “transformation” with regards to the issue of public housing are likely to induce thoughts of the city’s plan for transformation, which displaced thousands of families.

The thought that the proposed HUD legislation could lead to further losses of housing for vulnerable families, said Ramsey to HUD Secretary Donovan, “would be unacceptable.”

Donovan said HUD is looking to build safeguards into the legislation to prevent housing losses, but was unclear as to what those safeguards might look like.

What does seem more certain in HUD plans, however, is a shift back to making sure those displaced by public housing redevelopment are the first placed back in newly developed housing, and a shift back to one-for-one replacement of public housing– meaning that public housing units won’t be torn down until there are new units to replace them.

Both Ramsey and other leaders at the HUD meeting expressed the overall need to bring back a national commitment to housing development that will reach our society’s most vulnerable.

Learn more about JCUA’s housing work here.

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