Tlaib introduces $5B bill to revitalize communities impacted by COVID-19, systemic racism

Feb 8, 2021 at 10:58 am
click to enlarge Houses on Detroit's east side. - Steve Neavling
Steve Neavling
Houses on Detroit's east side.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib introduced a bill that would provide $5 billion in housing grants to help revitalize underprivileged communities impacted by COVID-19, disinvestment, and systemic racism.

The Restoring Communities Left Behind Act, also introduced by Rep. Kaptur, D-Ohio, last week, would fund neighborhood revitalization activities such as homeowner rehabilitation assistance, weatherization, improved housing accessibility for seniors and people with disabilities, housing counseling, refinancing, and property tax relief.

Communities like Detroit have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and systemic racism.

“Housing justice is economic justice and racial justice,” Tlaib, a Detroit Democrat, said in a statement. “Communities across the country are suffering from government disinvestment and systemic racism. The Restoring Communities Left Behind Act is a major step in reversing decades of discriminatory policy. This legislation will turn homeownership from a possibility to a reality for so many who have been left out, as well as ensures many others have the ability to maintain and stay in their homes in good condition.”

Tlaib added, “This is only the beginning, we must continue to make major federal investments in struggling communities to allow everyone to live with a good roof over their head. The pandemic has set many of our neighbors back, and policies like the Restoring Communities Left Behind Act are needed to help people not only recover from the damage, but thrive and flourish like they deserve.”

Under the bill, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) would establish the program and provide competitive grants to local partnerships. Some of the funds would be used to purchase and renovate vacant, abandoned, and blighted properties and turn them into affordable housing.

The money also would improve parks, sidewalks, street lighting, and other neighborhood resources.

The bill is supported by National Community Stabilization Trust, Center for Community Progress, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Grounded Solutions Network, Habitat for Humanity, Detroit People’s Platform, Bridging Communities, the United Community Housing Coalition, and National Community Action Foundation.

“Communities like Detroit have seen neighborhoods hollowed out by systemic racism, corporate greed, and governmental disinvestment, and it’s long overdue that we target resources directly to the frontline communities that need them most,” Linda Campbell, director of the Detroit People’s Platform, said. “We work directly with Detroit residents who need help maintaining their roofs and fixing their furnaces to allow them to stay in their homes, and this bill helps rebuild neighborhood economic security by empowering residents and community organizations.”

Michele Oberholtzer, director of Tax Foreclosure Prevention with the United Community Housing Coalition, said the grants would help increase homeownership and stable neighborhoods.

“Detroit is the city of homes and once enjoyed some of the highest homeownership rates overall and African-American homeownership rates in the country,” Oberholtzer said. “Over the past decade, the mortgage foreclosure crisis and subsequent tax foreclosure crisis have contributed to Michigan losing more African-American homeowners than any other state. This legislation is a sorely needed investment in preserving what we have and avoiding the wrecking balls.”

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