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WASHINGTON, DC-Relying on a recently filed discharge position, US Rep. Barbara Lee made a call to Congress to take action on the National Housing Trust Fund legislation. The bill introduced in the House in 2001 that would establish a fund in the US Treasury for assisting in the development, rehabilitation, and preservation of affordable housing units throughout the country.

Lee gave a status report on the discharge disposition, which would free the House Rules Committee of its responsibility in considering the legislation. “We wouldn’t have the discharge position if House leadership, on its own, was committed to moving this bill forward,” Kim Schaffer of the National Low Income Housing Coalition tells GlobeSt.com. To date 135 members have signed the discharge petition; 218 signatures are required for further action.

“Debate and action on this bill is long overdue and desperately needed,” Lee says in a press conference on the matter. “We must remember that not only will this bill create 1.5 million affordable housing units, but it will also create 1.8 million new jobs. We all know our economy needs the type of economic stimulus this bill will provide.” The signers of the discharge petition, Lee says, “are fully committed to action on this bill before we adjourn.”

In a separate but related event on Thursday at the National Press Club, a bipartisan group–consisting of former US Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretaries Jack Kemp and Henry Cisneros, along with former National Association of Home Builders Executive Vice President Kent Colton and Nicolas Retsinas, Director of Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies–held a press conference calling on the federal government to make housing a national priority. The four have written a book on the subject.

“Most often when we have achieved successful housing programs it has come through bipartisan compromise,” Cisneros said at the event. “The President and Members of Congress have a great opportunity before them to achieve more effective long term housing policy.”

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