Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, released a statement following the passing of her legislation, H.R. 5156, the ‘‘Expediting Assistance to Renters and Landlords Act of 2021,” by the House Committee on Financial Services, which will reform the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program. The bill passed the Committee by a vote of 28-22.
“Even before the pandemic, this country was experiencing a severe affordable housing crisis. The pandemic exacerbated our housing crisis, disproportionately affecting millions of vulnerable communities, including renters of color who have been among those hardest hit by the pandemic,” said Chairwoman Waters.
“To address the escalating housing crisis and to prevent millions of unnecessary evictions, Congress passed a total of $46.6 billion in emergency rental assistance between the December 2020 omnibus bill and the American Rescue Plan Act. Yet to date, only a fraction of those funds – 11 percent – have been distributed to renters struggling to pay their rent and landlords struggling to pay their mortgage. After the eviction moratorium lapsed in July, in large part because Republicans in Congress vowed to oppose extending it – putting millions of people at risk of eviction even as the highly transmissible Delta variant has caused a surge in coronavirus cases across the country – I immediately set to work on a legislative solution, closely coordinating with the Treasury Department, to address issues with the slow implementation of the emergency rental assistance program.”
“My new legislation, the Expediting Assistance to Renters and Landlords Act of 2021, will improve access to program funds for renters and landlords, and ensure that any landlord or tenant who wants to participate in the program can. My bill removes barriers preventing tenants from receiving assistance, allowing landlords to directly apply for back rent after providing notice to their tenants, and directing the Treasury Department and grantees to get the word out and to provide more guidance to grantees on how they engage with their local government to increase awareness and distribution of program funds, among other provisions.
“As Chairwoman of the Financial Services Committee, I am working around the clock with my Democratic colleagues on the Committee to do all we can to make sure that everyone in the nation is able to remain stably housed.”
Representative Nikema Williams, a lead co-sponsor of the bill, released the following statement:
“As a child, my family didn’t always have much but one thing we always had was a roof over our head,” said Congresswoman Williams. “Housing is a basic human right. Too many of our neighbors are facing housing uncertainty due to no fault of their own.
“I am proud to co-lead this legislation with Chairwoman Waters, to extend vital Housing relief to help our neighbors stay in their homes. Now is not the time to end the relief that has benefited so many people in my district and throughout the country, especially as we enter a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Co-sponsors of the bill include Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Representative Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Representative Al Green (D-TX), Representative Alma Adams (D-NC), Representative Sylvia R. Garcia (D-TX), and Representative Ritchie Torres (D-NY).
“Ensuring renters and landlords alike receive the much-needed assistance Congress provided remains a priority. I thank Chairwoman Waters for introducing this legislation, which will expedite relief and ensure those who need assistance can receive it as quickly as possible,” said Congresswoman Maloney.
“Throughout the pandemic, in New York City, and across America, countless individuals and families and disproportionately working families of color, have lost their jobs and fallen behind on their rent due to circumstances beyond their control,” said Congresswoman Velázquez. “As a result, Democrats passed a total of over $46 billion in emergency rental assistance, yet in states like New York, the rollout of these funds has been slow to reach those in need. That’s why I’m proud to cosponsor this legislation that takes the necessary steps to remove barriers to funding and speed up assistance so that no family faces the heartbreak and trauma of being evicted during a global pandemic.”
“Congress has passed a total of $46.6 billion in emergency funding assistance for landlords and renters, and unfortunately many municipalities are still struggling with a timely distribution of these funds,” said Congressman Lynch. “This bill will help expedite these available funds, which are critical to helping landlords pay their mortgages and tenants pay their rent as we continue to recover from the pandemic.”
“House Democrats are working hard to pass legislation that will expand access to the Emergency Rental Assistance program for as many tenants and landlords as possible. This urgent relief will help keep families in their homes by disbursing rental payments directly to qualifying landlords, as well as tenants, for current rent owed and back rent of up to 24 months,” said Congressman Green.
“I am proud to cosponsor Chairwoman Waters’ critical legislation,” said Congresswoman Adams. “When we appropriated more than $46 billion in emergency rental assistance, Congress was clear in our intention: we asked the entire nation to step up and help us stop the spread of COVID-19 by ensuring those most impacted by the pandemic could remain in their homes, and by making sure that their landlords would be made whole. Extending emergency rental assistance will allow critical rental assistance funds to reach tenants and landlords alike. This legislation will help fulfill that promise and ensure we deliver these funds to those that need them most.”
“It is critical that Congress provides a solution for all Americans who are struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are behind on their rent. It is a reality that we need to help fix," said Congresswoman Garcia. "I am proud to join Chairwoman Waters and my colleagues in the Financial Services Committee in providing a path for these families and proper resources in their preferred language so they can access rental assistance without fearing homelessness.”
“We have seen throughout the country that states and municipalities are experiencing difficulties getting rental assistance to the renters and landlords that desperately need it. I’m proud to co-sponsor Chair Waters’ legislation that would cut red tape, provide the tools necessary to get the assistance out the door, and ensure that families are able to stay in their homes,” said Congressman Torres.
Click HERE for the full bill text.
Click HERE for the section-by-section summary of the bill.