Ocasio-Cortez: Housing should be legislated as a human right

Greg Nash

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) on Thursday called for housing to be “legislated as a human right” during a town hall event in the Bronx.

“We have to make sure that housing is being legislated as a human right,” she could be seen saying in videos from the event. “What does that mean? What it means is that our access and our ability and our guarantee to having a home comes before someone else’s privilege to earn a profit.”

“Housing is one of the most complicated policy issues that we have, period,” the rising Democratic star continued. “Because you have everything from City Council, from how things are zoned to state rent laws, to federal tax breaks and all of it comes together to make a picture that all too often enriches people who are already powerful and impoverishes people who are already vulnerable, and we cannot allow that to happen anymore.”

{mosads}“Twenty percent of asthma cases come from home environment issues,” she said later. “We just heard about it right now. And so, when we talk about our right to a clean home, when we talk about retrofitting buildings, what we’re talking about is cleaning our air and cleaning our water, because when we talk about what housing as a right means, it doesn’t mean that you have a right to four crumbling walls and dirty floor.”

“What it means is that we all have a right to dignified housing, good heat, responsible structures, low noise, clean air and clean water that’s at an affordable price,” she continued.

Ocasio-Cortez went on to tell residents about the “luxury building” she recently moved into in Washington, D.C., and compared it to an affordable apartment she toured recently in the congressional district she represents. 

“I move into this luxury building in D.C. … It’s an efficient building. It’s clean. It has public space. It has a rooftop garden — y’all watch my Instagram. It has all of these things right. It has clean air. It has clean water and I think about this and I’m like, ‘This is what a ‘luxury building’ is like.’ Right?” she said.

“I just toured an affordable housing unit yesterday in Queens and this is one of the first developments of its kind in the borough of Queens in almost 30 years,” she continued. “Sixty-seven units of affordable senior housing. Twenty to 30 percent of those units were reserved for seniors who were formerly homeless. It’s a phenomenal building. It was built using passive house methods and technology. So its 90 percent more carbon-efficient and 90 cleaner than any other building in New York City. And it’s affordable housing run by a not-for-profit.”

“So I go in and I do a tour with one of these seniors, right? And she opens the doors and I look and I open and it looks just like my apartment,” she says to laughs form the audience.

“So what that shows me and what that tells us is that what we have been taught that is a luxury should not be a luxury,” she adds.

Tags Affordable housing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez House New York
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