2M face housing challenges amid US budget cuts
Chronic underfunding of public housing maintenance is putting 2 million individuals at risk of unsanitary conditions, such as mold and pest infestations.
Human Rights Watch reported on Tuesday that budget cuts on public housing have led to a worsening of living conditions for low-income people in the US.
Jackson Gandour, a fellow in the Economic Justice and Rights division at the Human Rights Watch (HRW), said the cuts had caused an increase in housing costs, describing this as a violation of basic human rights, and urged to capitalize on the issue.
"Underfunding has not only put public housing tenants at risk, but it has forced many people to pay unaffordable rents on the private market as they languish on housing assistance waiting lists," he said.
The report says there are currently about 2 million individuals living in public housing in the US. From 2000 to 2013, public allocations for housing repair drastically declined by about 50% in real terms. In 2021, despite a few increases in between, the budget was left 35% lower than it was in 2000.
Tenants who were interviewed by HRW said the maintenance has become more irregular in recent years, which resulted in the development of unsafe and unsanitary conditions, such as damp and moldy walls and ant infestations.
Furthermore, an increase in private-sector-led affordable housing initiatives caused an increase in the prices of houses built using the low-income housing tax credit program.
"By disinvesting in public housing, the US government has jeopardized the rights of public housing tenants across the country," the NGO said.
The NGO called for the 1998 Faircloth Amendment to be revoked, which sets a cap on the number of units any public housing authority (PHA) could own and operate, effectively halting new construction of public housing.
Guess who’s repeal of the Faircloth Amendment just passed the House! 😌— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 1, 2020
Faircloth has blocked construction of new public housing in the United States for 20+ YEARS. Repeal is key to tackling our housing crisis.
THANK YOU to the advocates who‘ve worked so hard to get here. pic.twitter.com/JkcJvNBr72