Representative Nydia Velazquez said Wednesday she has introduced legislation in Congress to create jobs for public housing residents, especially in New York.
Velazquez said the legislation would tighten requirements that agencies spending public funds in housing projects hire residents and low-income people. It also would channel project funds to resident owned small businesses and would incentivize job training for residents, through practical training in construction and clerical jobs.
The proposed law changes certain provisions in Section 3 of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968.
Speaking at an event with community leaders in Red Hook, Velazquez said the provisions would affect anyone wanting to do business with housing projects in New York.
“Every agency, be it NYCHA, be it the NYPD, every time they hire someone new to work in public housing it has to be residents that fall into Section 3.” Velazquez said.
“We want to promote local hiring, not bring in people from other states, but give those jobs to New Yorkers”.
Velazquez, a Democrat representing New York’s 12th Congressional District, which includes the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bushwick, Greenpoint, Red Hook, East New York, Brooklyn Heights, Sunset Park and Williamsburg; said the legislation would be in force “by next year” and would create about 1,000 new jobs annually. The legislation’s prospects in the sharply divided Congress are uncertain.
Section 3 of the 1968 housing law is designed to ensure that employment and other economic opportunities will be directed primarily towards low and very low-income persons and to businesses that provide economic opportunities for these persons.
Velazquez said housing authorities would be obliged when hiring new workers to employ a minimum of 30 percent Section 3 residents. For contractors and sub-contractors, 20 percent of working hours must be performed by low and very low-income persons.
“We must give priority to residents,” Velazquez said. “If a household is underemployed or unemployed, they pay minimum rent. If we empower them, they will benefit.”
The proposed law, called the ACE Act (Affordable Communities Employment) also provides job-training opportunities. “Training opportunities must be expanded beyond construction, because right now there is only construction work training,” she said. “We have to include clerical and administrative positions for women, give training that empowers all and that gives women equality amongst men.”
Also speaking was David R. Jones, president of the Community Service Society, which advocates for the poor.
Jones said the ACE Act is needed because “New York has one of the steepest increases in poverty in the country, and we’re expecting to see a surge of poverty. Before the recession things were bad, now it’s just gotten worse.”