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NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel Statement on House-Approved “For the People Act,” Facilitating Voter Registration in Federally Assisted Housing

Washington, DC –The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for its passage of the “For the People Act” (H.R. 1), which includes a requirement that federally supported housing providers must include voter registration documents to renters at initial lease-up and annual income recertifications. This provision will boost election participation among renters and low-income people. While renters are very committed to participating in choices that strengthen their communities, including elections, their frequent changes in address and other barriers to voter registration and voting have led to persistently lower renter voter registration and turnout rates compared to homeowners. Lower renter voter participation results in the needs of renters often being overlooked by candidates for office and elected officials.

NLIHC commends Representative Nikema Williams (D-GA) for her leadership in ensuring this important provision was included in the “For the People Act” so that more renters of federally assisted housing are engaged in voting. NLIHC also commends Representatives Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-IL) and Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA) for their leadership in introducing the “Our Homes, Our Votes Act,” from which this provision originated.

“Providing more renters access to voter registration is an important and natural function for housing providers who receive federal funding,” said Diane Yentel, NLIHC president and CEO. “This important legislation will facilitate greater election participation among low-income renters, who have historically been disproportionately disenfranchised, and amplify their voices for safe, decent, accessible, and affordable housing.”

NLIHC convened housing providers throughout 2020 as part of its Our Homes, Our Votes nonpartisan voter and candidate engagement project. Nonprofit, public, and for-profit housing providers representing more than 800,000 subsidized homes committed to increasing voter registration and turnout as an essential component of supporting residents. Many of these industry leaders are enthusiastically supportive of federal legislation that requires a practice they believe should already be commonplace.

“The federally subsidized housing amendment to H.R.1 is an important step towards ensuring residents of our nation’s affordable housing are more easily able to participate in our democracy,” said Jonathan F.P. Rose, president of Jonathan Rose Companies.

“As members of the NLIHC’s Housing Providers Council, POAH has collaborated with other affordable housing peers to develop strategies for engaging our communities around voter registration and mobilization, including making voter registration accessible to residents,” said Aaron Gornstein, president and CEO of Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH). “The provision in HR 1 that would encourage voter registration as part of the leasing process supports our efforts.”

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