LANSING - Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel continues to join attorneys general from across the nation in a variety of multistate actions.
Letter Pushing for Increased Funding for Public Housing
On April 16, Nessel joined a coalition of 14 attorneys general from around the nation to strongly urge Congress to invest in the nation's public housing systems. In a letter to congressional leadership, the coalition expresses concern that the $40 billion in funding for public housing allocated as part of President Joseph Biden's $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan -although a good start - is insufficient to address the years of neglect and underfunding of the nation's public housing systems. The coalition, instead, estimates that the nation's public housing portfolio requires at least $70 billion in capital investments to , growing to $90 billion through 2030.
"Safe and adequate housing requires adequate resources. And while this commitment is a good start, it does not go far enough to address years of underfunding," Nessel said. "It's long past time for public housing to receive this necessary funding."
Because of its reach and its ability to serve low-income families that might otherwise become homeless, public housing is a vital resource for cities, neighborhoods, and the 1.2 million families that call those places home. In order to keep public housing units affordable for low-income families, federal regulations cap rents at 30 percent of a family's income. While this cap ensures affordability, the amount of rent collected by the nation's 3,300 PHAs is insufficient to cover the costs of operating and maintaining the properties they oversee.
When the federal public housing program was created in 1937, it was understood that PHAs would need ongoing operating and capital support from the federal government to close the gap between the rents charged to those in public housing and the actual cost of building operations and maintenance. The amount that each PHA is entitled to receive from the federal government is set each year by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through a formula. However, it is Congress that appropriates money to these funds, and, in most years, the appropriation does not match the total amount that PHAs require for maintenance and operation under the formula.
In recent years, especially, as the coalition notes, the political will has not existed to fully fund the gap between public housing rents paid and the cost of building operations and maintenance. For example, the amount appropriated by Congress has only matched the need, as stated by HUD, twice between 2000 and 2018, and, in some years, the amount has been less than 85 percent of the need. Further, in the past 10 years alone, the Public Housing Operations budget has been reduced by nearly $1 billion. This has resulted in a massive backlog in necessary repairs and maintenance and has led to deteriorating and damaging conditions for the families living in public housing.
The coalition calls on Congress to allocate sufficient funds to address the repair backlog, a forward-facing commitment to fund capital funding gaps, and a dedicated fund for lead remediation.
Coalition Urges OfferUp to Stop Sales of Fake Vaccination Cards
On April 19, Nessel called on OfferUp, an online mobile marketplace, to act immediately to prevent fraudulent or blank COVID-19 vaccine cards from being sold on its platform. A bipartisan coalition of 42 attorneys general raised concerns about the public health risks of these fake cards in a letter to the company.
The fake cards appear to be official because they include the logos for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health. However, using these deceptive cards violates many state laws.
"Yet another platform is being used to prolong this pandemic," Nessel said. "Earlier this month, I joined my colleagues in urging Twitter, eBay and Shopify to help prevent the sale of fraudulent vaccine cards to protect public health. I echo that sentiment with OfferUp and remind Michiganders to contact my office if you spot scams related to COVID-19."
In their letter, the attorneys general urge OfferUp to: