Julián Castro pledges $200B green infrastructure fund in housing proposal

Julián Castro pledges $200B green infrastructure fund in housing proposal
© Greg Nash

White House hopeful Julián Castro on Tuesday released the second portion of his "People First Housing" plan, with a focus on environmentally sustainable housing that includes a $200 billion infrastructure account.

To "align housing and community planning" with climate goals, the plan would establish a $200 billion Green Infrastructure Fund to expand and improve public transportation, make buildings more energy efficient, improve climate resilience, modernize the grid and create public electric vehicle charging stations.

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Castro's plan describes the investments as part of an effort to achieve net-zero global greenhouse emissions by 2050 and "meet the promise of the Green New Deal."

The Green New Deal, which is championed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez reveals new policies for campaign aides with children Kennedy launches primary challenge against Markey The Memo: 'Whistleblower' furor gains steam MORE (D-N.Y.), calls for making the U.S. carbon neutral by 2030.

The initial $200 billion investment would be provided by the government. Castro's campaign told The Hill they would be able to leverage "significant" private capital on top of that.

Twenty-nine percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2017 came from transportation, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Buildings and building construction account for almost 40 percent of total direct and indirect CO2 emissions globally, the International Energy Agency estimates.

The former Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary, who has consistently polled near 1 or 2 percent in national and early state surveys, also proposed modifying zoning laws to increase housing density near transportation aimed at reducing emissions and reliance on personal vehicles.

To tackle housing discrimination, Castro said he would re-implement the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which was frozen by the Trump administration.

The rule would give HUD the authority to enforce the Fair Housing Act, which protects potential homeowners or renters from discrimination. Castro's plan would expand the statute to protect the LGBTQ community.

Castro's proposal would combat gentrification by enacting protections in communities at risk of being displaced and keeping rent at affordable levels for existing residents.

His plan would provide $75 billion in aid to small businesses to boost struggling communities. That amount would be separate from the $200 billion fund.

The first portion of Castro's housing plan, released Monday, focused on securing affordable housing and combatting homelessness.

Updated at 3:24 p.m.