WASHINGTON—In the midst of historically high housing costs, U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and U.S. Representative Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) joined U.S. Representative Jamaal Bowman Ed.D (D-N.Y.) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in sending a bicameral letter urging President Biden to pursue all possible strategies to address rent inflation, 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.
“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,” the lawmakers wrote.
The lawmakers continued: “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. 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%.”
In addition to Congress pursuing legislation to address unaffordable housing costs, the lawmakers laid out seven steps the Biden administration should take “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;
· Directing the Federal Trade Commission to enforce action against unfair rent gouging practices;
· Directing the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to issue guidance mitigating cost burden and adopting anti-rent gouging measures;
· Encouraging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the U.S. Department of Justice, and HUD to investigate 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;
· Activating the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to move people experiencing homelessness into permanent, affordable homes;
· Establishing a Federal Interagency Council on Tenants’ Rights to identify interagency actions that can be taken to support renters and coordinate the implementation of those policies.
The full letter text is available here.
This letter is also signed by U.S. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), and U.S. Representatives Alma Adams (D-N.C.), Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.), André Carson (D-Ind.), Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D-Fla.), Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Yvette D. Clarke (D-N.Y.), Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-Mo.), Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.), Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Dwight Evans (D-Pa.), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (D-Ill.), Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.), Al Green (D-Texas), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Steven Horsford (D-Nev.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), James P. McGovern (D-Mass.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Donald Payne, Jr. (D-N.J.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Delia C. Ramirez, Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Mary Scanlon (D-Pa.), Janice Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.).
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.