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Housing is a human right

It will not surprise you when I say the United States is experiencing a housing affordability crisis. This isn't a crisis that happened overnight. And while two years of stress on the economy and people hasn't helped, the COVID-19 pandemic is not to blame. Our inability to help people find and remain in affordable housing is the result of decades of deliberate choices from policymakers who scaled back the federal government's partnership on housing.

For centuries, the federal government has helped provide a home for some, often at the expense of others. Communities of color were systemically denied wealth-building opportunities in the form of property and faced discrimination in accessing housing. The impacts of these policies remain today: middle class families struggling to buy their first home, renters who can barely make rent, chronic homelessness, and lingering effects of centuries of institutionalized racism.

This is unacceptable.

In 2019, I met with leaders, advocates, and policy experts to draft a comprehensive legislative roadmap and report outlining solutions for our most dire housing challenges. I worked with my friends, Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Pramila Jayapal, and Rashida Talib, to create The People's Housing Platform, an innovative framework that declares housing a fundamental human right. It also consisted of seven separate bills, each addressing a different aspect of the affordable housing and homelessness crisis. I was truly overwhelmed by the positive response and the real hunger at that time to meaningfully address this issue.

And then, in March 2020, COVID-19 hit.

We pivoted to meet the most immediate needs in our community. The federal government funneled nearly $85 billion toward emergency housing and homelessness assistance, enacted an evictions moratorium, and offered mortgage forbearance. But this only addressed the deficit created by decades of budget cuts.

We can and must do more.

This week, I declared the need for a housing reset. The federal government cannot retreat from this issue. It's time for our leadership to get back in the game, build on the investments of the last two years, and become a full partner with state, local, and Tribal governments to address critical affordable housing needs.

My legislative agenda contains solutions for five of the most vexing housing policy challenges:

-Public Housing


-Renter Relief

-Equitable Homeownership

-Fair Housing

Solving the housing crisis and helping those who are experiencing homelessness is something that funding alone cannot solve. I cannot do it alone, Congress cannot do it alone, and local government cannot do it alone. We need everyone, working together at all levels, to rededicate themselves to solving this humanitarian crisis and to making our communities livable again. That's why I will be working on my agenda with our state and local leaders and dedicated housing advocates on the front lines.

To learn more about my housing access plan visit: https://www.earlblumenauer.com/priorities/housing



Posted on March 19, 2022.