Duckworth Joins Congressman Bowman, Senator Warren in Urging President Biden to Help Keep Renters Housed
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Amid historically high housing costs, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and U.S. Representative Jamaal Bowman (D-NY-16) this week to send a bicameral letter urging President Biden to pursue all possible strategies to address rent inflation, end corporate price gouging in the real estate sector as well as ensure that renters and people experiencing homelessness across this country are stably housed this winter.
“We are writing today about the urgent issue of soaring rent prices that our constituents face,” the lawmakers wrote. “We commend the steps your Administration has already taken to address the affordable housing crisis, including the Housing Action Supply Plan and recent White House meetings with advocates on tenant protections. In the absence of robust investments in fair and affordable housing, it is clear that additional timely executive action is needed to address the urgent issue of historically high rental costs and housing instability.”
The lawmakers continued by listing actions the Administration can take to help address the housing crisis.
They stated: “People are struggling to pay the rent today, and we must pursue all options on the table that will help renters stay housed in the short-term, while also continuing to collaborate on efforts to realize long-term investments in our nation’s affordable housing supply…With that in mind, we encourage your Administration to supplement pre-existing efforts with actions that support tenants and address the issue of rent inflation and corporate price gouging in the rental market today.”
Along with Duckworth, Warren and Bowman, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Christopher Murphy (D-CT), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), and U.S. Representatives Alma Adams (D-NC-12), Nanette Barragán (D-CA-44), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-1), Cori Bush (D-MO-1), Kathy Castor (D-FL-14), Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D-FL-20), Judy Chu (D-CA-28), Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY-9), Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO-5), Joe Courtney (D-CT-2), Danny K. Davis (D-IL-7), Veronica Escobar (D-TX-16), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY-13), Dwight Evans (D-PA-3), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (D-IL-4), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA-34), Al Green (D-TX-9), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ-7), Steven Horsford (D-NV-4), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA-7), Ro Khanna (D-CA-17), Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), James P. McGovern (D-MA-2), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-12), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY-14), Ilhan Omar (D-MN-5), Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ-10), Mark Pocan (D-WI-2), Katie Porter (D-CA-47), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-7), Delia C. Ramirez (D-IL-3), Jamie Raskin (D-MD-8), Mary Scanlon (D-PA-5), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL-9), Mark Takano (D-CA-39), Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS-2), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI-12), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY-7) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12).
This letter is endorsed by over 80 housing, climate, education and immigration organizations including Homes Guarantee Campaign, People’s Action, National Low Income Housing Coalition, National Housing Law Project, Groundwork Collaborative, Center for Popular Democracy Action, Debt Collective, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Liberation in a Generation, PolicyLink, Private Equity Stakeholder Project, Revolving Door Project, Sunrise Movement, ACT UP Philadelphia, Affordable Housing Network of Santa Clara County, African Communities Together, Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund, Amped, Appalachian GameChangers, Arizona Students' Association, AZ AANHPI for Equity, Berkeley Tenants Union, Black Leadership Action Coalition of Kentucky (BLACK), Broken Hearted Homes, CADEM Renters Council, Cape Girardeau Tenants, Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, Center for Neighborhoods, Charleston SC DSA Chapter, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Community Alliance of Tenants, Community Development Technologies (CDTech), CT Citizen Action Group, El Shaddai Refuge Homes CDC, Faith in Action Nevada, Faith in the Valley, Florida Rising, For Our Future NV, Freedom BLOC, Fuerte Arts Movement, Ground Game LA, Hometown Action, Housing Justice for All, Inquilinxs Unidxs por Justicia, Jane Addams Senior Caucus, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Living United for Change in Arizona, Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center, Louisville Metro Council District 4, Madison County Tenants Union (Kentucky), Maine People’s Alliance, Make it Work Nevada, Monterey County Renters United, National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD), National Women’s Law Center, Neighbor to Neighbor, Nevada Housing Justice Alliance, New Jersey Citizen Action, PA Stands Up, Parable of the Sower Intentional Community Cooperative, Partnership for the Public Good, Pennsylvania Stands Up, Pennsylvania United, Pioneer Village Tenants Association, Pittsburgh United, PLAN, Poder In Action, Progressive Maryland, Prosperity Now, Public Counsel, PUSH Buffalo, reclaim philadelphia, Rights and Democracy (NH & VT), Rise Up WV, Rural Arizona Engagement, Sami bourma, San Gabriel Valley Tenants Alliance, TakeAction Minnesota, Tenants Political Action Committee, Thai Community Development Center, The 490 Project, The Women’s Building, Unity Fellowship of Christ Church - NYC, VOCAL-NY, Western Regional Advocacy Project and Youth Alliance for Housing.
Full text of the letter is available here and below.
Dear President Biden,
We are writing today about the urgent issue of soaring rent prices that our constituents face. We commend the steps your Administration has already taken to address the affordable housing crisis, including the Housing Action Supply Plan and recent White House meetings with advocates on tenant protections. In the absence of robust investments in fair and affordable housing, it is clear that additional timely executive action is needed to address the urgent issue of historically high rental costs and housing instability. With this in mind, we urge your Administration to pursue all possible strategies to end corporate price gouging in the real estate sector and ensure that renters and people experiencing homelessness across this country are stably housed this winter.
Simply put, the rent is too high and millions of people across this country are struggling to stay stably housed as a result. Housing is the largest monthly expense for most Americans, and skyrocketing rental costs increase the likelihood of evictions, foreclosures, homelessness, and health issues for people across the country. Rent is a major driver of inflation. According to the Consumer Price Index, the cost of shelter rose 0.8% in October alone, which is the highest rate in 40 years.1 Furthermore, as was highlighted in a recent House Financial Services Committee hearing, over the last few years, median asking rents have increased by 31% and house prices have increased 48%.2 This problem is hitting renters of all ages, with seniors being the most cost burdened renter population.3 The U.S. Government Accountability Office found that a $100 increase in median rent is associated with a 9% increase in the estimated homelessness rate.4
Additionally, reports of corporate landlords and real estate companies increasing the rent for their own profit are rampant, placing additional strain on already struggling working families.5 In a country where increase in rental costs have far outpaced wage growth, it is clear that these heightened costs and acts of corporate profiteering are exacerbating an already-existing crisis of housing unaffordability and instability.
People are struggling to pay the rent today, and we must pursue all options on the table that will help renters stay housed in the short-term, while also continuing to collaborate on efforts to realize long-term investments in our nation’s affordable housing supply, like the more than $150 billion that the House passed in November 2021 through the Build Back Better Act.6 With that in mind, we encourage your Administration to supplement pre-existing efforts with actions that support tenants and address the issue of rent inflation and corporate price gouging in the rental market today, including:
- Directing the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to establish renter protections for individuals residing in properties financed with government-backed mortgage properties, including anti-price gouging protections, just cause eviction standards, habitability standards, and protections against source-of-income discrimination. To prevent future abusive landlord practices, FHFA must enforce these standards and make public any steps it takes to hold landlords accountable.
- Directing the Federal Trade Commission to issue new regulation defining excessive rent increases as a practice that unfairly affects commerce and enforce action against unfair rent gouging practices.
- Directing the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to issue guidance to entitlement jurisdictions on the importance of mitigating cost burden and adopting anti-rent gouging measures as an important action for affirmatively furthering fair housing to ensure equal access to fair and affordable housing for all renters.
- Encouraging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, in conjunction with the Department of Justice and HUD, to investigate instances of corporate landlords discriminating against tenants unlawfully.
- Encouraging states to use State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds from the American Rescue Plan to protect renters from the threat of rent inflation and corporate greed in the rental market by investing in homes affordable to people with the lowest incomes, as well as extending and strengthening emergency rental assistance programs. The Administration should also encourage states and localities to enact much-needed renter protections.
- Activating Federal Emergency Management Agency resources to help move people experiencing homelessness into permanent, affordable homes and provide longer-term rental assistance to help keep renters stably housed.
- Establishing a Federal Interagency Council on Tenants’ Rights to identify interagency actions that can be taken to support renters; coordinate the implementation of policies to protect tenants; and engage renters in underserved communities in policy making efforts. We recognize that in addition to these Executive Branch efforts, there is an urgent need for Congress to pursue legislation on the issues of tenant protections and unaffordable housing costs, including the momentous investments in affordable housing included in the House-passed Build Back Better Act. We will continue to fight for these much-needed legislative changes. We look forward to working with you on this issue.
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