Bold Bills Aim to Mend the Gaps in Access to Housing
May 7, 2020
In 2020, NETWORK started the year with an expanded focus on housing to address mending the gap between housing costs and stagnant wages. Our goal is clear: build a pathway from poverty to prosperity for families. To achieve this goal, NETWORK joined the Opportunity Starts at Home Campaign, a solutions-driven coalition comprised of multi-sector groups working at the federal, state, and local level to improve housing affordability and end homelessness.
While our lobby efforts continue to include increasing federal funding for critical affordable housing programs (like Section 8 vouchers, public housing, Community Development Block Grants and HOME Investment Partnerships), we are also supporting a growing list of critical bills that would make structural change by:
- Bridging the growing gap between renter incomes and rising housing costs.
- Providing aid to people experiencing job losses or other economic shocks to avert housing instability or homelessness.
- Expanding the affordable housing stock for low-income renters.
- Defending existing rental assistance and other targeted housing resources from harmful cuts.
Eviction Crisis Act (S.3030): A bipartisan bill introduced by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Rob Portman (R-OH) that would establish a federal emergency housing assistance grant program that would provide aid to people experiencing housing insecurity to avert homelessness and would create a national database to track evictions.
Family Stability and Opportunity Vouchers Act (S.3083): A bipartisan bill introduced by Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Todd Young (R-IN) that would create an additional 500,000 housing vouchers specifically designed for low-income families with young children under 6 to expand their access to neighborhoods of opportunity with high-performing schools, strong job prospects, and other resources.
Housing Is Infrastructure Act (H.R.5187/S.2961): A bicameral bill introduced by House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA-43) and Senator Kamila Harris (D-CA). This legislation would invest more than $100 billion to improve our nation’s housing infrastructure, build affordable rental homes, and create jobs.
Homes for All Act (H.R.5244): Introduced by Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05), a bill that would commit $1 trillion to fund the construction of 12 million new homes in the U.S. over 10 years, mostly as public housing.
Rent Relief Act (H.R.2169/S.1106): Introduced by Representative Danny Davis (D-IL-07) and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), this bicameral bill aims to reduce rent burdens by creating a new, refundable tax credit for renter households paying more than 30% of their gross income for the taxable year on rent and utilities.
We applaud the authors of these bills for proposing solutions to the real problems facing too many families and individuals in the United States. In the coming months, NETWORK will mobilize to build support for this legislation in Washington, D.C. and across the country. Watch for additional communication from NETWORK with ways to support this faithful legislation.
Tralonne Shorter is a NETWORK Senior Government Relations Advocate.
- When families struggle to pay rent, they face greater risks of instability, eviction, and even homelessness, which research links to food insecurity, poor health, lower cognitive scores and academic achievement, and more frequent foster care placement among children.
- Our nation’s continued legacy of racism can be found within generations of public policy that continue to segregate communities by race and income.
- On a single night in 2018, half a million people experienced homelessness in the United States.1
- An estimated 1.3 million U.S. school children lived in unstable housing during the 2016-2017 school year.2
- 4 million people in 5.2 million U.S. households use federal rental assistance to afford modest housing. 68% are seniors, children, or people with disabilities.3
- 23 million low-income renters in the U.S. pay more than half their income for housing. Most do not receive rental assistance due to funding limitations.3
Who are they?
- 32% are children
- 34% are working adults
- 12% are seniors
- 18% have a disability
- 3% are veterans
- Department of Housing and Urban Development: hudexchange.info/resource/5783/2018-ahar-part-1-pit-estimates-of-homelessness-in-the-us
- Department of Housing and Urban Development: huduser.gov/portal/publications/Worst-Case-Housing-Needs.html
- Center for Budget and Policy Priorities: cbpp.org/research/housing/federal-rental-assistance-fact-sheets#US