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Espaillat, Velázquez, Ocasio-Cortez Lead Push to Prioritize Immigration, Housing, Transportation in Reconciliation Package

October 8, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, Representatives Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Nydia Velázquez (NY-07), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) led their colleagues in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer urging them to prioritize public housing, immigration reform and accessible transportation in low-income communities as negotiations continue for the Build Back Better reconciliation package.

"As our communities continue on the road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, it's more crucial now than ever that we deliver the much-needed support our constituents and the American people need," said Rep. Espaillat. "By ensuring robust investments in immigration reform, public housing, and transportation infrastructure remain included in the budget reconciliation package, we'll be able to provide our most vulnerable communities the support they need to not only stay afloat, but to build back better and stronger than ever before. We promised to go big and bold - and this is how we deliver."

“Communities around the country and in New York City are still recovering from the worst public health crisis in over a century,” said Rep. Velázquez. “By prioritizing public and affordable housing, immigration reform, and accessible transportation in low-income communities in the Build Back Better Act we’ll be able to help our constituents and Americans across this nation rebuild stronger than ever. We have a once in a generational opportunity to deliver for working families, and we need to get this done.”

"As you work to finalize the package, we urge you to maintain the level of funding for public and affordable housing, immigration reform and accessible transportation in low-income communities," the members said in their letter. "These priorities are critical to the economic recovery of New York City, and our great nation as a whole."

While the American Rescue Plan and other rescue packages helped address immediate health and economic concerns, they were not a long-term solution to many of the pressing challenges facing our nation. We are grateful for your leadership thus far and appreciate your diligence to deliver the transformative change that people throughout this country urgently want, need, and deserve. The Build Back Better reconciliation package is a once in a generation opportunity to build a sustainable and prosperous future for our country-- affordable housing, quality sustainable and accessible public transportation, and sound immigration reform must remain priorities in the debate," the members concluded. 

Specifically, as negotiations continue to be held for the Build Back Better reconciliation package, the members are requesting that leadership support:

  • $80 billion for Public Housing. This investment is critical to the roughly 400,000 public housing residents of New York City. We strongly support this level of funding as it is vital to build back better and sustain healthy living environments for many of our working-class families. We additionally request that you maintain the $37 billion for the National Housing Trust Fund to build and preserve 330,000 homes affordable to people with the greatest needs. Lastly, we respectfully request that you preserve the $90 billion to expand rental assistance to 1 million additional households.
  • $10 billion to support access to affordable housing and enhance mobility for low-income individuals and residents of disadvantaged or persistent poverty communities. Additionally, we request that you maintain the $4 billion to support neighborhood equity, safety, and affordable transportation access, including reconnecting communities divided by existing infrastructure barriers. Providing and expanding sustainable public transportation options that connect people to affordable housing, job opportunities, and education are crucial to combatting racial and economic inequities in our districts as we work to overcome the global pandemic. 
  • $107 billion to expand safety-net protections and create a pathway to citizenship for millions of DACA recipients, people with temporary protected status, essential workers, and farm workers. It is vital that we preserve the entirety of this funding allocation, not only because these communities have been the backbone of our national economy throughout this pandemic and beyond, but also because the U.S. is their only home and refuge from the political, economic, and climate disasters they are fleeing. Additionally, we are also supportive of maintaining the visa recapture provision that was secured in the House text.

In addition to Representatives Espaillat (NY-13), Velázquez (NY-07), and Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), the letter was signed by Representatives Ritchie Torres (NY-15)Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09)Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12)Grace Meng (NY-06), and Jamaal Bowman Ed.D. (NY-16).

The text of the correspondence is below, and you can read the letter in its entirety here.