Fair housing advocates applauded Wednesday evening as the U.S. House pushed through the repeal of the Faircloth Amendment, a 22-year-old provision which blocks the construction of new public housing units.
The repeal of the amendment, led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), was passed as part of the Democrats' Moving Forward Act, aimed at upgrading and decarbonizing the nation's infrastructure.
Guess who’s repeal of the Faircloth Amendment just passed the House!
Faircloth has blocked construction of new public housing in the United States for 20+ YEARS. Repeal is key to tackling our housing crisis.
THANK YOU to the advocates who‘ve worked so hard to get here. pic.twitter.com/JkcJvNBr72
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 1, 2020
The Faircloth Amendment was passed in 1998 as an amendment to the Housing Act of 1937. The provision banned the construction of new public housing units which would lead to a net increase in public housing from the 1999 level. Existing units would need to be disposed of or demolished before new construction could take place under the law.
The amendment was "largely forgotten" by many after being signed into law by President Bill Clinton, according to Curbed, but has been a focus of housing advocates for years.
Journalist David Dayen expressed surprise on Tuesday that for more than two decades, "PAYGO for social housing" has existed in the United States.
I thought I knew a thing or two but this one got by me, holy crap there's a paygo for social housing? pic.twitter.com/VNlSXLc8Yt
— David Dayen (@ddayen) July 1, 2020
Fair housing advocates and other progressives applauded the House vote, with housing for all organization Open New York calling the amendment "an anti-housing catastrophe."
The Faircloth Amendment is an anti-housing catastrophe––we're very excited to see repeal pass the House! https://t.co/peBFHqsa2X
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— Open New York (@OpenNYForAll) July 1, 2020
If we're serious about solving the housing crisis, we have to increase the supply of permanently affordable housing. Repealing the Faircloth Amendment is an important step. https://t.co/ucLpORRX0m
— Morgan Harper (@mh4oh) July 2, 2020
This is so important to guaranteeing housing as a right.
If anyone needs more background on the Faircloth Amendment https://t.co/kmwYGjxndZ
— Jess Scarane for Senate (@JessforDelaware) July 1, 2020
Ever since this country stopped building public housing it has been stuck in affordability crisis. The Faircloth Amendment is one of the most heartless pieces of legislation that has prevented any substantive action on housing for years. https://t.co/0ce7H10jPs
— Marco Rosaire Rossi (@MarcoRosaire) July 2, 2020
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) has previously introduced legislation to repeal the Faircloth Amendment, and a repeal was included in Rep. Ilhan Omar's (D-Minn.) Homes for All Act. That legislation called for 8.5 million new public housing units.
Jeff Andrews wrote at Curbed earlier this year that because of the overall reduction in public housing stock across the U.S. since Faircloth was passed, public housing authorities in some cities could add to their stock without exceeding the 1999 cap.
"But the Faircloth Amendment would clearly stand in the way of building [8.5] million new public housing units, as Omar's bill proposes, an almost tenfold increase in the number of public housing units," Andrews wrote.
The Green New Deal for Public Housing, introduced last year by Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) with the aim of retrofitting public housing units, also called for the repeal of Faircloth.