115 representatives and 8 Senators have so far signed on as original cosponsors of a bill for emergency rental assistance. Over 140 national organizations support the legislation.
Washington, DC – Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA), chair of the House Financial Services Committee, Representative Denny Heck (D-WA), and more than 115 original cosponsors will introduce this week the “Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act” to provide $100 billion in emergency rental assistance to help keep the lowest-income renters stably housed during the coronavirus pandemic. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, will also introduce companion legislation this week. More than 140 national organizations join the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign in applauding these efforts to fund emergency rental assistance at the scale needed to keep millions of America’s lowest-income families stably housed during and after this pandemic. Congress must include this emergency rental assistance in the next coronavirus response package.
“It’s tough to shelter at home if you don’t have a home. Without rental assistance, millions of families and individuals will be at risk of eviction, threatening their health and creating long-term negative consequences for renters, their children, and our entire economy,” said Senator Brown. “The Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act of 2020 will provide critical rental assistance to help families and individuals stay in their homes during and after this public health crisis.”
“We’ve passed an emergency bill to assist small business, support hospitals & create widespread testing,” tweeted Maxine Waters (D-CA), chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee. “I’ve warned everyone we must include my $100 billion plan to protect renters from evictions...I’m prepared to fight till hell freezes over to get it done!”
Even before coronavirus, 11 million renters – including 8 million of America’s lowest-income seniors, people with disabilities, low-wage workers and other individuals – were paying more than half of their limited incomes to keep roofs over their heads, leaving them one financial crisis away from eviction and, in worst cases, homelessness. For many, this pandemic is that financial crisis. Lost jobs and wages – combined with rents that were unaffordable even before coronavirus – will leave millions of people struggling to make rent and threatened with eviction.
Emergency rental assistance would provide direct support to help people who have lost jobs and wages avoid housing instability during and after the pandemic. A patchwork of short-term moratoriums on evictions nationwide offer temporary protections for some renters but rent arrears will accumulate. People who have lost income as a result of the coronavirus outbreak will struggle to cover large sums of back-rent once it comes due. Unemployment insurance (UI) does not make up for lost income for people who had two jobs to make ends meet but lost one because of coronavirus, and millions of people who filed for UI will not receive their benefits in time to pay rent on the first of the month. Without emergency rental assistance, these households will face the destabilizing impacts of evictions and, in worst cases, homelessness, with enormous negative consequences for individuals, their communities, and our economy. Congress must ensure the housing stability of the lowest income seniors, people with disabilities, and low-wage families with children by supporting the “Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act” and including this critical legislation in the next coronavirus spending package.
At this moment when our collective health depends on our ability to stay home, it has never been clearer that housing is healthcare.
About NLIHC: Established in 1974 by Cushing N. Dolbeare, the National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that ensures people with the lowest income in the United States have affordable and decent homes.