WASHINGTON – May 22, 2014 – (RealEstateRama) — Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) fought to expand federal housing assistance and protect funding and eligibility for vital infrastructure programs that improve the economy and support local communities, including projects in Chicago and Cook County. His efforts come as the House Appropriations Committee considers the FY15 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill.
“America’s increasing public housing needs and crumbling infrastructure require sustained investments that will grow our economy, create jobs and strengthen local communities. Expanding the Rental Assistance Demonstration Program will help us meet the challenges of improving and preserving affordable housing. Protecting the integrity of TIGER grants will support the vital transit, bike and pedestrian transportation projects that promote sustainable and livable communities. And finally, investing in positive train control implementation will ensure the highest level of safety for the millions of passengers that use our commuter railroads each year,” said Rep. Quigley.
Rep. Quigley offered an amendment to increase the cap for the highly popular Residential Assistance Demonstration (RAD) Program from an arbitrary 60,000 housing units to 250,000 units. RAD improves housing conditions for families by allowing Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) to convert public housing units to project-based vouchers or rental assistance contracts at no additional cost. Expanding the program would allow the Cook County and Chicago housing authorities to participate, along with the nearly 300 PHAs with applications on the waiting list.
Rep. Quigley offered amendments to increase funding for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants and to restore TIGER grant eligibility to transit, bike, and pedestrian projects. TIGER grants encourage smart, multi-modal transportation projects that stimulate local economies, giving local governments the flexibility to invest in projects that best meet their needs. In Chicago, TIGER grants have supported updates to the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) Red and Blue Lines, as well as the sustainable transportation efforts of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) and local bikeshare programs.
Finally, Rep. Quigley offered an amendment calling for increased funding for implementation of positive train control (PTC) safety measures. Congress has mandated that commuter railroads implement PTC by the end of 2015, forcing commuter rails like Metra in Chicago to choose between performing critical system safety maintenance projects and implementing this unfunded mandate. The estimated cost of PTC for Metra alone is approximately $220 million, which is 150 percent larger than Metra’s annual capital program.
Rep. Quigley is the only Illinois member currently serving on the House Appropriations Committee, which approves the federal government’s annual spending levels for nearly all federal programs. He has prioritized Chicago-area infrastructure investments as a member of the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD). Last year, he helped secure funding for Core Capacity grants that would benefit CTA, TIGER grants used for the Elgin-O’Hare Western Access Project and completion of the McCook and Thornton reservoirs to reduce long-term flooding in Cook County.