2002-08-10 / Community

Once And Again

By Con. Gregory W. Meeks

Once And Again:
A Plea For Housing
By Con. Gregory W. Meeks

During last year’s debate on the Public Housing Drug Elimination Program cuts, I was moved to a passionate plea for much needed funds. I have spoken to constituents, lenders and developers-- nationwide on the ills of predatory lending. I have hosted affordable housing seminars throughout the District. I am in the leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus W.O.W. Initiative. Once again, I find myself fighting for "Housing."

Just as the House of Representatives prepared to adjourn for the August recess, my Colleagues and I convened on the House Financial Services Committee to consider H.R. 3995, The Housing Affordability for America Act. For years, I have sought to elevate the debate around affordable housing to a pitch audible to the policy makers in Albany and Washington to hear. As an Assemblyman and Member of Congress, representing the Queens Congressional District with over 25 percent of the Borough’s public housing units, it was a scream that started in my heart.

In the 106th Congress, I introduced language to support housing for elderly and disabled families. The Elderly + Care bill, sponsored by over 100 Members was included in the bill. I was particularly encouraged by this event, since elderly and disabled housing is the next frontier within the affordable housing debate. My unrelenting interest has always been the creation of affordable rental units and increasing home ownership.

In hopes of really tackling the affordable housing issue, the need for a national clearinghouse on affordable housing issues was both recognized and proposed. I stood fast along my colleague, Bernie Sanders, in support of his amendment to create the National Housing Trust Fund using excess FHA funds. This measure enjoyed the support of ACORN; LISC and La Raza-- just to name a few of the 2,730 local state, and national organizations in support. Now you might think–"who would oppose?" Well, the partisan debate raged in the Committee and shortly after my making another passionate plea on behalf of those who want housing and cannot afford it, the amendment was adopted.

The battle continues. At this time, although the bill has been successfully reported out of Committee, I pledge to continue to work for its final passage. This bill-- intact-- must go through final passage in both the House and Senate conference, approval by both bodies and then off to the President for signing. We, in Congress, can and must do all we can to elevate the debate around affordable housing to the level of health, education or the environment.

As we look around us in our neighborhood, everything is affected by where, how and in whose home we live. Show your support for affordable housing; we can make it happen; and, we will not stop until home ownership is an attainable dream for all who wish to pursue it.

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