‘Housing is a human right’: Queens congresswoman proposes investment plan to end homelessness and housing poverty

Photo courtesy of Rep. Grace Meng’s office

In an effort to quell the homelessness and housing poverty epidemics across the country, a Queens congresswoman proposed a bill that would invest tens of billions of dollars in programs to combat these issues.

Congresswoman Grace Meng recently introduced the Pathway to Stable and Affordable Housing for All Act, a “robust 10-year investment plan” focused on meeting the housing challenges communities face daily.

“Housing is a human right, and everyone deserves a safe and affordable home. But too many families are stricken with the cruel and impossible decision of choosing between paying rent or paying for groceries or prescription drugs. Homelessness and the lack of affordable housing are moral crises that we must fight, once and for all,” said Meng.

Meng’s plan would focus on the four following provisions:

  • Investing $10 billion a year in additional funding for the Emergency Solutions Grant Program. This program focuses on homelessness prevention and “rapid rehousing” for those who find themselves homeless.
  • Putting an additional $10 billion per year toward the Continuum of Care Program, which helps organizations aid individuals experiencing long-term homelessness into the shelter system.
  • Investing $40 billion a year in direct funding to the Housing Trust Fund, which would be on top of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac funding. This would allow the country to begin paying back the deficits in affordable housing stock.
  • Fully funding Tenant-Based Rental Assistance, vouchers that allow all eligible households to gain permanent and safe affordable housing.

“In New York, more than 90,000 New Yorkers are without a home, and nationwide, only 37 affordable and available homes exist for every 100 extremely low-income renter households. In my own Sixth Congressional District of New York, these numbers are even worse; only 18 housing units are available for every 100 extremely low-income households,” said Meng, a member of the House Appropriations Committee.

Meng’s legislation is the companion to the Pathway to Stable and Affordable Housing for All Act, a bill introduced by Senators Mazie Hirono, Kirsten Gillibrand and Corey Booker.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), the bill would “effectively end the scourge of homelessness and housing poverty in the country.”

“Through robust investments in the national Housing Trust Fund, housing vouchers, and homeless assistance grants, Representative Meng’s bill addresses the underlying, systemic causes of the affordable housing and homelessness crisis: the widening gap between incomes and housing costs and severe shortage of homes affordable and available to the lowest-income seniors, people of color, people with disabilities, families with children, and other individuals,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the NLIHC.