Representative Ritchie Torres Introduces “Stable Families Act” to Create Permanent ERA Program

Representative Ritchie Torres (D-NY) introduced on July 7 the “Stable Families Act,” a companion bill to the Senate’s bipartisan “Eviction Crisis Act.” If enacted, the “Stable Families Act” would establish a new, national Emergency Assistance Fund (EAF) – funded at $3 billion annually – to help stabilize households with extremely low incomes experiencing an economic shock before it leads to eviction, housing instability, and in worst cases, homelessness.

“We are all one tragedy away from losing everything, including our homes. During the pandemic we saw millions at risk of losing their homes as unemployment rose to as high as 25% in the Bronx, pushing working families toward losing their homes,” said Congressman Ritchie Torres (NY-15). “The cost of homelessness is far greater than the cost of housing. What we need now is not a temporary fix to the housing crisis but a permanent emergency rental assistance funding. That is why I am proud to introduce the Stable Families Act with Rep. Jimmy Gomez to ensure the federal government provides the necessary housing resources that are essential to the stability of American families.”

NLIHC’s President and CEO Diane Yentel joined Representative Torres in his district for the announcement. “I applaud Representative Ritchie Torres for introducing the Stable Families Act, which would build on the successes and lessons learned from Congress’s historic efforts to keep renters safely, stably housed throughout the pandemic,” Diane said. “By creating a permanent emergency rental assistance program, the Stable Families Act will help low-income households in financial crisis avoid the trauma of eviction and housing instability.”

Limited public resources, coupled with the growing cost of housing and severe shortage of affordable, accessible housing stock, has led to a crisis of evictions, homelessness, and housing instability, particularly for people paid the lowest wages. While the over $46 billion in emergency rental assistance (ERA) provided by Congress in the COVID relief bills has been a vital lifeline for millions of households at risk of eviction, ERA funds are running out. A permanent solution, like the Emergency Assistance Fund proposed in the “Stable Families Act” and “Eviction Crisis Act,” is badly needed to ensure households do not face the trauma of eviction, housing instability, and homelessness.

The Emergency Assistance Fund would operate as a grant program administered by HUD to eligible state, local, tribal, and territorial governments. Grants would be used to provide temporary financial assistance and stability services to extremely low-income households who are most at-risk of eviction after a financial shock. Research shows that emergency rental assistance is crucial to helping households with low incomes remain in their homes and avoiding costlier interventions. Moreover, recent research shows that recipients of pandemic ERA reported improved financial well-being and better mental health.

NLIHC and our HoUSed and Opportunity Starts at Home Campaigns strongly support the “Stable Families Act” and “Eviction Crisis Act” and urge Congress to enact these vital bills to ensure long-term housing stability for renters with the lowest incomes.

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