Today U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez introduced legislation aimed at making public housing agencies more responsive in future natural disasters. The Post Superstorm Sandy bills were announced during a news conference on the steps of City Hall. Housing advocates and City Council members Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez joined the Congresswoman.
Velazquez said the Public Housing Disaster Preparedness Act would require public housing authorities to establish and communicate disaster plans, ensure residents have access to food and water and require health and safety measures. Another bill would transfer $50 million into a Housing & Urban Development voucher program to help low income victims of Sandy obtain affordable housing.
Velazquez expressed confidence that the legislation would enjoy bipartisan support. In the past, Republicans in Congress have opposed any increases in funding for public housing (in fact- public housing allocations have fallen sharply in the past decade). These bills do not call for any new money within the federal budget. Velazquez represents sections of the Lower East Side and Brooklyn, including many public developments hit hard by the storm.