Housing / Infrastructure

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This is a collaborative knowledge base; feel free to propose edits/additions that you believe are important for others to know. Contributions will be reviewed and approved based on quality and accuracy.

How You Can Resist
How You Can Resist
[edit]

  • Call your Senator by dialing tel:844-6-RESIST and tell them to vote to support the Senate Democrats' infrastructure bill.
  • Call your Members of Congress by dialing tel:844-6-RESIST and tell them not to cut funding for affordable housing, community development, or energy assistance.
  • Find out when your Senators and US Representative are holding town halls and other Upcoming Events/Opportunities. Show up and tell them to support the Senate Democrats' infrastructure bill.
  • Click People and Organizations to find an organization looking for volunteers.

Actions Taken by the Federal Government
Laws Proposed by Congress
[edit]

Legislation that Supports Equity and Justice

  • HR 1146 would require the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to establish a pilot program to give grants to eligible organizations to provide legal assistance to low-income families regarding housing disputes, and for other purposes.
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  • HR 209 would improve HUD regulations on hazardous storage containers for housing safety, and health.
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  • HR 915/S. 325 would permanently restore the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act 2009, which expired on December 31, 2014. The act protected tenants facing eviction by providing them adequate time to find alternative housing.
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  • HR 202 would amend the Fair Housing Act to make it unlawful to discriminate against prospective tenants who hold Section 8 vouchers.
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Harmful Legislation

  • S 103 / HR 482 would nullify regulations designed to address the segregation created by redlining policies, and prohibit federal funds from being used for the HUD database that tracks community racial disparities and disparities in access to affordable housing.[7]
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See also the State and Local Pages for state-by-state legislative tracking.

Housing[edit]

Affordability of Housing[edit]

The Trump administration has proposed a budget that includes $6 billion in cuts to HUD.[8] This would decrease funding for affordable housing and rental assistance, and could lead to evictions and housing shortages. The HUD operating fund helps 1.2 million families living in public housing, and would be cut by $600 million. [9]

One of HUD's programs provides Housing Choice Vouchers, which help very low-income families find safe, decent, and affordable rental housing.[10] These vouchers allow low-income families to avoid having to move as often. They also reduce the number of families that live in overcrowded housing, doubled up with other families, in shelters, or on the streets.[11] Vouchers improve children’s long-term chances for success, increasing their adult earnings and decreasing the likelihood of incarceration.[12] Trump's proposed budget would cut this program by $1.1 billion.[13]

Click here to estimate the impact of these cuts in your community.

Impact of Housing Choice Vouchers. [1]


Supportive housing combines vouchers with health care and other services. It has been shown to keep at least 75% of those who use it from returning to homelessness.[14] Vouchers and rental assistance help about 340,000 veteran families, many of whom live in supportive housing.[15] About 1.2 million additional supportive housing units are needed to serve people with histories of homelessness or institutionalization.[16]

The Low-Income Housing Credit is a federal tax credit that encourages long-term investment in affordable rental housing.[17] Trump's tax plan could cause a decrease in the amount investors are willing to put into low-income housing tax credits.[18]

Click here for fact sheets on the impact of the Housing Credit in your congressional district.

The Trump administration has not announced a plan to improve housing for rural homeowners who are struggling with affordability. Many such people voted for Trump.

Rural housing affordability.
Availability of affordable housing by state. [2]


Click here for maps showing affordability and availability of housing in your congressional district.

Community Development and Services[edit]

Trump’s proposed budget would totally eliminate the $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program. This program funds health-care and child-care facilities and neighborhood rehabilitation and disaster relief programs, and provides public services for seniors, youth and the disabled, including programs like Meals on Wheels.[19] Also eliminated would be programs that focus on redeveloping low-income neighborhoods and promoting homeownership, including the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, the Choice Neighborhoods program, and the Self-help Homeownership Opportunity Program.[20]

The budget proposal would eliminate programs in other departments that help low-income people. The Health and Human Services agency would have a $12.6 billion budget cut, or about 16% of their budget. The agency would entirely lose several community services programs, including the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps low-income families pay home heating costs.[21] The US Interagency Council on Homelessness, which coordinates the federal government's efforts to reduce homelessness, would be completely eliminated, as would the Legal Services Corporation, an organization that provides free civil legal advice to low-income people.[22]

These budget cuts would have a disproportionate impact on people of color. Black households are more likely to pay more than 40% of their income for rent, and black people make up over 25% of participants in Community Development Block Grant programs.[23] Larger percentages of Native American (35.3%), Black (34.7%), and Latino (31.9%) households qualify for energy assistance than white (15.9%) households.[24] Nearly 30% of Legal Services Corporations' clients are black.[25]

Click here to estimate the impact of proposed cuts to Community Development Block Grant in your community.

Discrimination in Housing[edit]

The Department of Housing and Urban Development manages low-income housing, facilitates financing for homeownership, and administers fair housing policies. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson has opposed existing protections against housing discrimination. [26] This is especially concerning given that the housing crisis of 2008 continues to impact communities of color.[27]

Given that Trump has been sued multiple times for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by not ensuring accessibility in his properties,[28] there is cause for concern that his administration will not ensure that affordable housing for people with disabilities is a priority.[29] These concerns are exacerbated by the fact that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has actively worked against protecting the rights of people with disabilities.[30]

Energy Assistance[edit]

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program assists low-income families with their home heating and cooling energy costs: bill payments, energy crisis assistance, weatherization and energy-related repairs.[31]

For more information about eligibility and applying for LIHEAP, please follow the link for more information.

The Trump administration's proposed budget would remove this entire program with no replacement. [32] 7.4 million US households received assistance money from LIHEAP with a large portion located in Midwestern states that Trump won in the 2016 election.[33]

Lead Paint[edit]

The EPA estimates that 38 million U.S. homes contain lead-based paint, which is harmful to children’s brain and nervous system development and can lead to permanent neurological damage and behavior disorders. [34] The Trump administration has proposed to cut funding for EPA programs that reduce lead risks by $16.61 million and eliminate more than 70 employees. [35] These programs provide training in the safe removal of lead-based paint and public education about its risks [36] Lead poisoning greatly impacts low-income people and people of color. According to a CDC study, children affected are more likely to be poor and from racial/ethnic minority groups. [37] Between 1999 and 2004, black children were 1.6 times more likely to test positive for lead in their blood than white children and black children were nearly three times more likely than white children to have highly elevated blood-lead levels. [38]

Infrastructure[edit]

Condition of US Infrastructure[edit]

The American Society of Civil Engineers released its 2017 "infrastructure report card," giving the nation's overall infrastructure a grade of D+. The ASCE projected that a total investment of $4.59 trillion would be required to bring infrastructure up to a B grade.[39] Aviation, dams, drinking water, inland waterways, levees, public parks, roads, schools, wastewater, transit, energy, and hazardous waste all received grades below C. [40]

Roads, Bridges, and Transportation[edit]

More than two out of every five miles of America’s urban interstates are congested. This cost the country $160 billion in wasted time and fuel in 2014. One out of every five miles of highway pavement is in poor condition. Traffic fatalities increased by 7% from 2014 to 2015, with 35,092 people dying on America’s roads. [41] Almost 40% of bridges in the US are 50 years or older and 9.1% of the nation’s bridges were structurally deficient in 2016, which means there are problems with their maintenance. On average, there were 188 million trips across a structurally deficient bridge each day. [42] There is an estimated $836 billion backlog for repairing existing highways and bridges.[43] The Federal Highway Administration estimates that each dollar spent on road, highway, and bridge improvements returns $5.20 in the form of decreased vehicle maintenance costs, shorter delays, reduced fuel consumption, better safety and reduced emissions.[44]

Road conditions by state. [3]
Structurally deficient bridges by state. [4]


U.S. airports serve more than two million passengers every day. Congestion at airports is getting worse and it is expected that 80% of the biggest US airports may soon have “Thanksgiving-peak traffic volume” at least one day per week. [45] The U.S. rail system carries over 30% of US exports, and delivers five million tons of freight and 85,000 passengers each day. The vast majority of the nation’s rail infrastructure is privately owned. [46] Public transportation in the US is expanding, with 10.5 billion trips in 2015. However, only 51% of US households report that they can get to a grocery store using public transportation. [47]

Accessibility of jobs by public transit in major cities. [5]


Policy Map has percentages of bridges that are structurally deficient in each congressional district. The American Public Transportation Association has information about access to rail lines and rural public transportation and bus replacement needs in each congressional district.

Drinking Water[edit]

90% of Americans get their drinking water from a public water system. [48] The EPA sets limits for contaminants in drinking water. Since 2012, 41 states reported higher than acceptable levels of lead in drinking water and 431 schools reported heightened levels of lead. [49] According to the American Water Works Association, upgrading existing water systems to meet the needs of our growing population will require at least $1 trillion in funding. [50]

Energy[edit]

Most electric lines were constructed in the 1950s and 1960s with a 50-year life expectancy. Increased investment in energy infrastructure is necessary to avoid longer and more frequent power interruptions, and increasing storm and climate impacts. [51]

Schools[edit]

Almost 50 million K-12 students attend nearly 100,000 public school buildings. 24% of public school buildings were rated as being in fair or poor condition. School funding varies widely by state: 5 states pay for nearly all of their school construction costs, 12 states provide no direct support, and in the remaining states support varies. The federal government contributes little to no funding for the nation’s K-12 educational facilities. [52]

Waste[edit]

Americans annually generate about 258 million tons of municipal solid waste, of which approximately 53% is deposited in landfills. Currently, 35% of municipal solid waste is recycled and 13% is burned for energy production. [53] The US has 14,748 wastewater treatment plants. More than 56 million new users are expected to be connected to these treatment systems over the next two decades, requiring at least $271 billion in additional funding. While the federal government provides some funding, 95% of spending on water infrastructure is made at the local level. [54] More than half of the U.S. population lives within three miles of a hazardous waste site. Most funding for government-led Superfund cleanup sites comes from general revenues or special accounts funded through settlements with the parties responsible. The Superfund program has not had a budget increase since 2009. [55]

For information about your community, the EPA has maps showing hazardous waste cleanup sites in each congressional district.

Dams and Levees[edit]

There are 90,580 dams in the country and the average age is 56 years. The number of high-hazard potential dams is increasing, and was almost 15,500 in 2016. It is estimated that it will require nearly $45 billion in funding to repair aging, high-hazard potential dams. [56] 30,000 miles of levees protect an estimated $1.3 trillion in property. $80 billion of investment is needed in the next 10 years to maintain and improve the nation’s system of levees. In 2014 Congress passed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, established a nation-wide levee safety program, but the program has not yet received any funding. [57]

The 10 states most threatened by high-hazard dams [6]


Trump/GOP Agenda[edit]

Infrastructure Plan[edit]

During the campaign, Trump proposed an infrastructure plan that consisted of a massive tax break to corporations encouraging the construction of projects deemed profitable. [58] This would likely speed up approval for projects, such as electrical grid modernization or energy pipeline expansions, that are already planned or underway, rather than fulfilling infrastructure needs. Trump’s infrastructure proposal would be funded by $137 billion in tax breaks to private investors.[59] This plan would not create the number of jobs Trump claims it will. The plan subsidizes investors, not projects, so there is no guarantee that these projects would prompt any new hiring. Investors could simply shift their capital from unsubsidized projects to subsidized ones and retain money from tax breaks that they had already planned to spend.[60] According to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, the Trump administration's plans for infrastructure projects will require higher tolls and fees on roads and bridges.[61]

On April 4, 2017, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said that an infrastructure proposal would be announced in May. [62] In a meeting with business leaders, Trump said "we're talking about a very major infrastructure bill of a trillion dollars, perhaps even more." [63] He did not provide specific policy details or how much would be in the form of tax breaks versus direct spending. [64] He also promised to eliminate regulations to speed up approval of infrastructure projects. [65]

Budget Cuts[edit]

Trump's budget proposal would completely eliminate the Essential Air Service program, which provides federal subsidies for commercial air service at rural airports.[66] Essential Air Service aids approximately 60 communities in Alaska and 115 communities in the 48 contiguous states that otherwise would not receive any scheduled air service.[67] Also eliminated would be Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants, which funded transportation infrastructure projects.[68]

The Department of Transportation would be cut by 13% in Trump's budget, eliminating funding for many new transit projects and support for long-distance Amtrak trains [69] and privatizing Air Traffic Control.[70]

Democrats’ Infrastructure Plan[edit]

Senate Democrats submitted a proposal that ‘’’would spend $1 trillion on infrastructure over the next 10 years.’’’ This plan would devote $210 billion to repairing roads and bridges, $110 billion to local water and sewer systems, $180 billion to expanding bus and rail systems, $75 billion to rebuilding schools, $70 billion to ports, airports, and waterways, $20 billion to expanding broadband access, and $100 billion for energy infrastructure. This plan differs from Trump’s infrastructure plan in that it would be directly funded (likely through corporate tax reform).[71]