An estimated 360 people attended the Green New Deal for Public Housing Town Hall hosted by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in Woodside, Queens over the weekend.
The legislation that was introduced last month, not only intends to make the 1.2 million public housing complexes across the country green, but to provide good union jobs for those that live in those units, according to Ocasio-Cortez.
AOC wants to bring back public housing to an era before there was constant mold, lead and toxins in those units making people sick — while pushing those complexes forward into the 21st century with green retrofits that would make the revamped housing stock energy efficient.
“How did we get here?” Ocasio-Cortez said. “The National Housing Act passed in 1934. It was from that decade that the United States said that this New Deal era economy was starting to approach the idea of housing as a human right.”
Unfortunately, anti-integration sentiments in the 1960s and the increase of privatization in the 1970s, as well as federal disinvestment for public housing in the 1980s, resulted in the decline of the quality of complexes.
“We had made an effort to have universal systems in this country,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “There was a time when we had nearly tuition-free public college in America. There was a time when we had robust public housing in America. There was a time when we had a very strong labor movement — where even Republicans were pro-labor in America. But that started to dismantle in the 1970s right after the Civil Rights Acts got passed.”
Grace Doyle, a constituent in the crowd, asked AOC how her legislation would address wealth inequality.
If it were to pass, $180 billion would be allocated over the course of 10 years to bring about construction jobs, engineering jobs and more. All in the efforts to create energy efficient buildings that have energy efficient appliances that would help with decarbonizing New York and other parts of the country.
“I want a just transition in a new economy,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “What that means is, we are calling on labor for these jobs to be union work.”