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July 20, 2009

U.S. House Committee Explores Employment Ideas for NYCHA Residents

Washington, DC – Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) today heard testimony from federal, state and city housing officials, and advocates during a Congressional field hearing she hosted at New York City Hall.  The meeting of the U.S. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity focused on two of the Congresswoman’s proposals that work to address key challenges facing public housing residents - employment opportunities and health care access for senior residents.   The hearing comes on the heels of new joblessness numbers showing unemployment in the City has skyrocketed to 9.5 percent.

“With New York City home to the largest public housing authority in the nation, it is critical that efforts to improve affordable housing take into account the needs and priorities of the local community,” said Velázquez.  “Today’s hearing provided a venue to discuss the difficulties New York residents face in securing employment and accessing health care options.”

 In 2008, 42 percent of families living in public housing across the country were headed by a person who was eligible to work but was not bringing in earnings.  The Congresswoman is determined to help public housing and other assisted housing residents find employment by linking them with effective training and opening the door to new job opportunities.  In New York City, the average family income for public housing residents is just $22,728, underscoring the need to provide job placement and training in these communities.

“Career training is essential to lifting families out of poverty,” Velázquez said. “By expanding these programs we can strengthen our communities and provide greater opportunity for all New Yorkers.”

The initiatives discussed today focus on providing job training to housing assistance recipients.  Since 2003, Velázquez has promoted legislation that would connect low-income New Yorkers with training to carry out federal contracting projects in their own communities. The initiative would strengthen “Section 3” Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requirements that are meant to guarantee that those living in HUD facilities are given some of the work for federal HUD contracts. The Congresswoman has also worked on a proposal to train  residents in home health care, which would both create job opportunities and offer care to the aging population living in federally assisted housing developments.

“These programs help those in public housing learn valuable trades, and employ them in jobs that can better the local community,” added Velázquez.  “Given the current downturn, initiatives like these are even more important to help hard working families develop new skills, find employment and help get our economy back on track.”

Local advocacy groups, including the Good Old Lower East Side, Legal Aid Society, the Corporation for Supportive Housing, Supportive Housing Network of New York and the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, have voiced support for the Congresswoman’s proposals.  Both legislative initiatives are expected to be introduced in the House of Representatives in the coming weeks.

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