Politics & Money

AOC takes on nation’s housing ecosystem

Protecting tenants is key in proposed legislation

Never one to shy away from hot button issues, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, is now turning her attention to housing.

Last week, Ocasio-Cortez introduced a new comprehensive package of legislation designed to create a sustainable national housing economy.

The group of bills, which Ocasio-Cortez calls “A Just Society: A Place To Prosper Act 2019,” includes six different bills: Recognizing Poverty Act, Place to Prosper Act, Mercy in Re-Entry Act, Embrace Act, Uplift Our Workers Act, and to Ratify the UN Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

While other politicians have introduced plan to address the country’s housing situation, many of those are presidential platforms, rather than actual legislative proposals.

Ocasio-Cortez’s plans aim to create a stable rental housing market, restrict evictions without just cause and guaranteed right to counsel for tenants who may be facing eviction. Ocasio-Cortez’s plan would also establish a national cap on annual rent increases.

Oregon and California also recently announced state-wide rent control initiatives, and now Ocasio-Cortez wants to increase those efforts to the entire nation.

Here are Ocasio-Cortez’s plans and what they mean for housing:

In one piece of the legislation, Ocasio-Cortez suggests making changes to the Fair Housing Act, adding a clause about source of income, excluding landlords from discriminating against potential tenants based on the use of housing vouchers, federal assistance or any lawful source of income.

Meanwhile, the Place to Prosper Act aims to create a national access-to-counsel fund for all renters in America who are currently facing eviction. It would place a national rent cap of 3% on annual rent increases, and pursue penalties on abusive and predatory landlords. 

Under Ocasio-Cortez’s plan, there would be $10 billion appropriated for the fiscal years 2020 through 2029 for activities of the Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Then, 25% of these funds would go towards research, studies, testing, and demonstration efforts, including education and outreach concerning lead-based paint poisoning and other housing-related diseases and hazards. 

Ocasio-Cortez also proposes amending the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. This will increase access to housing assistance.

“A just society treats housing as a right, not a privilege,” Ocasio-Cortez said to Now This.

Read the whole bill here.

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