CRNHR Stands with Allies in Defense of HUD Low-Income Housing Programs

In the midst of the largest housing crisis in the history of the United States, our representatives in Congress and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are proposing to jeopardize the very resources we need most for stability in our communities.  Even as HUD’s own numbers show a 20 percent increase in households in dire need, Congressional debates have focused on how much to cut from federal low-income housing programs – not how much to add. Furthermore, HUD’s promotion of a private financing scheme for public housing continues on.



On February 14th, the Campaign stood in solidarity with the National Alliance of HUD Tenants (NAHT), homeless activists and allies across the country to deliver a message to Congress that, when it comes to cutting the budget, we are not “all in this together.”  HUD’s low-income housing programs, including public and subsidized housing, should not be “in this” at all.  The Campaign sent Valentine’s messages to members of the Chairs and Ranking Members of both House and Senate Committee on Appropriations’ Subcommittees on Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies.  Campaign Steering Committee Member, Mayday New Orleans, also held a local action to voice their opposition as part of a National Day of Action organized by NAHT, which consisted of over 20 actions nationwide.  The Campaign plans to continue to participate in and collaborate with NAHT’s National Budget Campaign in the coming months.

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.   

Photo taken by Western Regional Advocacy Project, as part of National Alliance of HUD Tenants' "Have a Heart" HUD Budget Campaign February 14, 2011