AOC, Bernie Sanders want to help 2 million Americans by investing in green housing infrastructure

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© Provided by Business Insider Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced a bill to improve public housing.
  • The bill would invest $172 billion over 10 years to create jobs and convert all housing to zero-carbon.
  • Ocasio-Cortez has previously said Biden’s infrastructure bill isn’t big enough to address the climate crisis.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

To tackle both the climate crisis and the housing affordability crisis, two progressive lawmakers reintroduced a bill on Monday to invest in public housing over the course of 10 years.

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Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York introduced the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, which would invest $172 billion in green retrofits and create up to 240,000 jobs per year across the country. It would also work to transition the entire public housing stock in the country to zero-carbon, highly energy-efficient developments that produce renewable energy and expand workforce capacity.

“It is unacceptable that over half-a-million people in America, the richest country on Earth, are homeless,” Sanders said in a statement. “It is unacceptable that for so many working people it is incredibly hard to find affordable housing. It is unacceptable that our nation’s public housing is in a state of chronic disrepair and energy inefficiency after generations of government neglect.”

According to a summary, the bill would create two new grant programs to reform US public housing through deep energy retrofits to increase energy savings in all 950,000 public housing units, and it would also prioritize good-paying jobs to strengthen community workforce development.

In addition, the proposals in the bill would:

  • Reduce annual carbon emissions by 5.6 million metric tons – the equivalent of taking 1.2 million cars off the road;
  • Reduce public housing water bills by up to 30% per year, or $97 million;
  • And reduce public housing energy bills by up to 70% per year, or $613 million.

Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter on Monday that this public housing bill was one of the first bills to “take the three core elements of the GND (Green New Deal) resolution – jobs , justice and decarbonization – and put it into bill text.”

She added that two new Green New Deal-related bills will be introduced this week.

The Green New Deal, a 2019 initiative led by Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, laid out goals for a 10-year effort to fight climate change through sustainable infrastructure, upgrading power grids, overhauling transportation systems, and more.

And while the two lawmakers did not put a price tag on the initiative, Bloomberg reported at the time that between $8.3 trillion and $12.3 trillion would be required to eliminate carbon emissions from the power and transportation industries, citing a study by a Republican-aligned think tank.

President Joe Biden’s $4 trillion infrastructure plan also largely focuses on rebuilding infrastructure through climate-friendly improvements, but Ocasio-Cortez has said his plan is “not nearly enough” to address the urgency of the climate crisis.

“This is not nearly enough,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on March 30. “The important context here is that it’s $2.25T spread out over 10 years. For context, the COVID package was $1.9T for this year *alone,* with some provisions lasting 2 years. Needs to be way bigger.”

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