In May 2010, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced its plan for the future of rental assistance in this country. The legislation, the Preservation, Enhancement and Transformation of Rental Assistance Act (PETRA), would allow HUD to change the ownership structure of "public" housing and use public housing units as collateral to raise funds for capital improvements. In other words, PETRA calls for the transformation of public goods into real estate commodities. Through this "transformation" process, PETRA threatens to displace many families presently living in public housing, as it would allow landlords to remove residents to off-site replacement housing and, in fact, encourages landlords to do so by introducing the profit motive while promoting the unsupported deconcentration of poverty theory of development.
For the past several months, community groups from across the country have been voicing their opposition to this perceived threat. In particular, a number of national coalitions, including the Campaign to Restore National Housing Rights, the National Alliance of HUD Tenants, the Housing Justice Movement, Right to the City, and the Western Regional Advocacy Project, joined together with local community groups, academics, and national and international NGOs to deliver a message to HUD Secretary Donovan that residents oppose mortgaging public housing. This letter also has been delivered to Representative Keith Ellison, who is planning on introducing a revised version of PETRA in the House within the next few weeks.
Read the letter and view the 40 community, 9 national, 4 international and 15 academic sign-ons.