Washington, DC – The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) and the National Housing Law Project (NHLP) sent today a joint letter to the Bident Administration on the urgent actions needs to protect renters and people experiencing homelessness. The letter urges the Biden Administration to establish and expand renter protections; activate emergency resources and long-term rental assistance; protect tenants from predatory investors; encourage states and communities to use State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF), provided through the American Rescue Plan, to develop affordable housing; and to prioritize long-term solutions to address America’s housing crisis, paired with reforms to address racial disparities.
President Biden signed today the “Inflation Reduction Act,” a $750 billion healthcare, tax and climate bill. The bill does not address skyrocketing rents, severe housing supply shortage, and increased homelessness. The rising cost of housing is a crisis for renters and a core driver of overall inflation. High housing costs and the lack of an adequate housing safety net create broader societal challenges including homelessness, poor educational outcomes, and high healthcare costs. Excessive housing costs also reduce economic mobility and hurt the productivity of the country.
“The Biden administration must take immediate action to protect tenants from exorbitant rent hikes and, in worst cases, homelessness,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. “Without federal action, housing will be a persistent driver of inflation and rising rents will hit the lowest income Americans the hardest. For this reason, it is even more important for the administration to take immediate action to keep families stably housed. A failure to do so would exacerbate homelessness, poverty, and racial inequality.”
"Renters are being pushed out of their homes by rapidly increasing rents," said NHLP Executive Director Shamus Roller. "Those increases are a major component of the larger inflation crisis. Misguided federal policies laid the groundwork for rent inflation and the Biden administration must now take action to repair those mistakes and help American renters."
As pandemic protections expire and emergency resources are depleted, low-income renters are struggling more than ever – with rising inflation, skyrocketing rents, eviction filing rates that are reaching or surpassing pre-pandemic averages, and, in many communities, increasing homelessness. Every $100 increase in median monthly rent is associated with a 9% increase in homelessness. Last year, monthly rents increased on average by 14%, or nearly $200, nationally. In some cities, rents rose by as much as 40%.
There is a national shortage of 7 million homes affordable and available to renters with extremely low incomes, those with incomes below the federal poverty limit or 30% or less of area median incomes. Fewer than four affordable and available rental homes exist for every 10 extremely low-income renter households, and there is not a single state with enough affordable homes to meet demand. For nearly eight million households with extremely low incomes, housing consumes at least half of their limited monthly budget. Affordable homes were out of reach for these households even before the pandemic, and they are even more precariously housed now as rents climb by 11.3% nationally and as much as 39% in some cities.
“If Congress can’t – or won’t – act, then President Biden must,” said Ms. Yentel. “We are calling on the entire Biden administration to take quick and decisive action to protect the lowest-income renters from exorbitant rent hikes and to get people experiencing homelessness to safety, even as we continue to push Congress to enact essential long-term solutions.”
NLIHC and NLHP joint letter to the Biden Administration is available at: https://bit.ly/3doufzY
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