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Waters, Heck and Brown Introduce Legislation to Provide Emergency Rental Assistance During COVID-19 Crisis

Washington, DC, May 8, 2020
Tags: COVID-19

Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, Congressman Denny Heck (D-WA), and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, announced the introduction of the Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act of 2020, legislation to create a $100 billion emergency rental assistance fund.

“This legislation would create a $100 billion emergency rental assistance fund to help struggling renters across the nation as well as mom and pop landlords relying on rental payments for their retirement,” said Chairwoman Waters. “We must take immediate action to prevent the COVID-19 crisis from turning into a national eviction crisis. It is absolutely essential for the next COVID-19 relief package to include this bill.”

“Millions of Americans are facing new financial uncertainty, through no fault of their own,” said Congressman Heck. “This bill will help tenants pay their rent, without placing the burden on landlords, many of whom are relying on payments from renters to pay their mortgages. It is vital to our recovery and to the wellbeing of Americans that we do everything we can to keep people in their homes. I will continue working with Chair Waters, Ranking Member Brown, and congressional leadership to ensure we quickly get rent relief to Americans.”

“This pandemic is yet another painful reminder of just how vulnerable millions of workers are to a single setback – whether it is losing your job, a broken-down car, or just being late on rent,” said Senator Brown. “Congress must act now to keep families in their homes. That’s why I am introducing the Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act of 2020 to ensure that renters remain safely and affordably housed during and after this crisis.”

The Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act would authorize $100 billion for an Emergency Rental Assistance program to help families and individuals pay their rent and utility bills and remain stably housed during and after the COVID-19 crisis. The program would generally utilize the framework of the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) program, which is a federal homeless assistance program that provides temporary rental and utility payment assistance to households, in order to facilitate the efficient and effective distribution of funds through an existing administrative and reporting infrastructure.

See here for a one-pager on the bill.

Chairwoman Waters’ March proposal for a comprehensive policy and stimulus response to the COVID-19 crisis included the Heck-Waters proposal to create a $100 billion emergency rental assistance fund.

The legislation has 131 House cosponsors. The bill is supported by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, National Low Income Housing Coalition, Up for Growth, National League of Cities, US Conference of Mayors, Mayors and CEOs for US Housing Investment, National Association of Counties, NAACP, Children’s HealthWatch, Catholic Charities USA, National Council of State Housing Agencies, National Community Action Partnership, Council of Large Public Housing Authorities, National Housing Law Project, National Fair Housing Alliance, National NeighborWorks Association, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Enterprise Community Partners, Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future, Housing Partnership Network, National Housing Trust, National Housing Conference, National Community Development Association, National Coalition for Community Reinvestment, LeadingAge, Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Housing Task Force, Coalition on Human Need, National LGBTQ Taskforce Action Fund, National Resource Center for Domestic Violence, National Education Association, Oxfam America, and Matthew Desmond, Maurice P. During Professor of Sociology Princeton University and Principal Investigator of the Eviction Lab.

“Even before the coronavirus, 11 million renters – including 8 million of America’s lowest-income seniors, people with disabilities, low-wage workers and other individuals – were paying at least half of their limited incomes to keep a roof over their heads, leaving them one financial crisis away from eviction and, in worst cases, homelessness. For many, this pandemic is that financial crisis,” stated Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “Congress should be doing everything they can to keep people stably housed during and after this public health emergency by implementing a national moratorium on evictions and providing at least $100 billion in rental assistance.”

“Given the health and economic tsunami the COVID pandemic represents for low income and minority Americans, this rental assistance bill is essential,” stated Nan Roman, President, National Alliance to End Homelessness. “Without it, many who were living on the edge prior to the pandemic will fall into homelessness as eviction moratoria and emergency financial assistance disappear. The National Alliance to End Homelessness fully supports this initiative to stave off a massive post-pandemic increase in homelessness.”

“Direct financial assistance for the millions of Americans struggling to pay rent is needed now more than ever,” said Mike Kingsella, Executive Director of Up for Growth Action. “We applaud Senator Brown. Chairwoman Waters, and Congressman Heck for their continued leadership on behalf of the families worried about their ability to balance rent payments with protecting their health and wellbeing during a global pandemic – particularly the millions of Americans who were already rent-burdened or housing insecure. Up for Growth Action and our members across the country encourage Congress to include rental assistance in any future COVID-19 relief package.”

“We know that eviction is a cause, not just a consequence, of poverty,” said Matthew Desmond, Maurice P. During Professor of Sociology Princeton University and Principal Investigator of the Eviction Lab. “Permitting millions of renters to be evicted during this crisis would only deepen the struggle to recover from the health and economic consequences of the coronavirus. I strongly support the Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act, which will provide the rental assistance that families and individuals need to interrupt this vicious cycle.”

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