Additionally, the Campaign is acutely aware of how budget cut politics will impact the debate surrounding HUD’s proposal to privately finance public housing. The crisis created by proposals to further starve the already underfunded Public Housing Capital Fund is likely to be used as the rationale for pushing through proposals to privately finance public housing and further erode the accountability and accessibility mechanisms of our current public housing system. The Campaign is working on a variety of projects with its national allies to address this upcoming struggle as well.
At the end of 2010, HUD found a Congressional sponsor for its “Signature Initiative,” the Preservation Enhancement and Transformation of Rental Assistance Act of 2010 (“PETRA”). Representative Ellison introduced the plan under a new name, the Rental Housing Revitalization Act (“RHRA”) in the lame-duck session of the 111th Congress, but not before the Campaign delivered its message of opposition to the bill’s private financing scheme to Representative Ellison. The solidarity letter, drafted by the Campaign, included the endorsement of 40 community, 9 national, 4 international organizations and 15 academics. Key pieces of this sign-on letter were also included in the Fall 2010 issue of the Progressive Planners Magazine, as part of powerful critique waged by highly-respected U.S. planners.
In light of a renewed guarantee by the Obama administration that RHRA will be reintroduced in the 112th Congress, the Campaign kicked off 2011 with a briefing on this issue by teleconference, with over 25 grassroots organizations calling in from Hawaii to Maine. Campaign members presented a history of the struggle and the human rights-based implications of HUD’s proposal, ending with a call for commitments from all participants to work together to oppose the further erosion of basic housing rights and advance a human rights-based alternative agenda. The Campaign continues to work with a core of national allies to educate elected officials, create a repository of popular education pieces for use by residents and organizers across the country, as well as create its own animated public housing piece on the importance of public housing to the community as a whole and the attack that is being waged against it.