WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representatives Scott Peters (D-CA-50), Danny K. Davis (D-IL-7), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA-34), and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-19) introduced legislation to help millions of cost-burdened renters. The Rent Relief Act provides a new refundable tax credit to renters who pay more than 30 percent of their gross income on rent, including utilities. The credit would be available to families earning up to $100,000 and deliver payments monthly as bills come due – building on the successful model of the expanded Child Tax Credit.
“San Diego renters face unacceptably high costs of living, especially when compared to national averages. The tax credit proposed by the Rent Relief Act provides much-needed relief, opportunity, and stability,” said Rep. Peters. “Creative solutions to help people keep a roof over their heads with dignity are critical as we make long-term progress to fix our national housing shortage. I thank my colleagues for their collaboration on this bill.”
Stable housing is foundational for the social, emotional, and economic well-being of individuals and families. Nationally, 8 million of the lowest-income renters spend at least half of their income on rent, leaving them little remaining to cover other basic needs for food, clothing, and health care. A recent report by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies raised the alarm that nearly 11.2 million older adults were cost-burdened. Currently, almost one-third of senior households are cost-burdened, with half of these seniors paying more than 50 percent for housing. Despite the profound need, only 1 in 4 eligible households receives any help, and some households spend years on waitlists due to inadequate funding. Creating a new renters’ tax credit – along with expanding targeted investments to increase supply – can help end America’s housing crisis.
“Every day thousands of people in Chicago struggle to pay rent,” said Rep. Davis. “The Rent Relief Act will help renters in a real, life-changing way so that they can better care for their families without fear of eviction or making the horrible choice between a roof over their heads or medicine and food for children. Direct grant assistance and affordable housing are essential, but only help a limited number of households. A renter’s credit could help every eligible taxpayer afford housing and improve their quality of life, working in concert with the other supports to help end America’s housing crisis.”
“It’s time to implement a tax credit that gives the growing population of renters some real relief,” said Rep. Gomez. “The burden of rent has increased significantly, outpacing real wages, and forcing families in Los Angeles and across the country to cut back on basic needs to afford their homes. Tax credits exist to help homeowners, why not implement tax credits for renters too? I’m proud to introduce the Rent Relief Act with my colleague on the Renters Caucus, Rep. Davis, to help close the gap between income and rent for low- and middle-income households with tax credits that put money directly into the pockets of working people.”
“Rising rents and the high cost of housing make it difficult for many working families who contribute greatly to the 19th Congressional District to actually live here,” said Rep. Panetta. “The Rent Relief Act will address these high costs by providing a federal tax credit to help cover the difference between their income levels and rental market prices. Proud to work with Rep. Danny Davis to reintroduce legislation so critical to keeping communities throughout our country workable and livable for working families.”
“I commend Senator Raphael Warnock and Representatives Danny K. Davis, Jimmy Gomez, Scott Peters, and Jimmy Panetta for their leadership in introducing this bold, innovative proposal to help millions of the lowest-income renters bridge the widening gap between incomes and housing costs,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC). “A new tax credit for renters, like the one proposed today, has the power to transform lives, providing America’s extremely low-income households with the breadth of opportunities that come from having a stable, affordable place to call home.”
“As people struggle to recover from the pandemic and the cost of rent continues to rise, we need significant investments to ensure that families and individuals with the lowest incomes can afford and stay in their homes,” stated Foluke Akanni, Housing Policy Organizer at Housing Action Illinois. “More resources will support cost-burdened renters, prevent homelessness, and help stabilize our communities.”
“Housing costs are high. For the millions of low-income Americans who are rent-burdened, the cost of inaction is higher,” said Christopher Martin, Policy Director, Housing California. “Additional federal resources are indispensable given that only one in four low-income households receives federal rental assistance. The Rent Relief Act will help address this gap, employing proven strategies to provide resources that will uplift households struggling to stay afloat – students who struggle to study, workers who struggle to work, parents who struggle to provide, and seniors who struggle to survive.”
“Affordable, safe housing is a human right—one on which we are falling alarmingly short, said Dr Joanne Carter, Executive Director of RESULTS and RESULTS Educational Fund. “The Rent Relief Act is a critical step toward justice in the tax code for families whose wages have not kept pace with the skyrocketing cost of housing. This legislation particularly targets financial tools to the families and individuals who need them most—those grappling with poverty and the impossible choices between paying for housing and their other basic needs. I urge Congress to pass The Rent Relief Act to empower renters with the resources they need to thrive.”
“The consequences of the current housing crisis touch nearly every aspect of our lives and underscore the urgency for creating safe, stable housing and economic opportunity for all people,” said Margaret Huang, president and CEO of the Southern Poverty Law Center and SPLC Action Fund. “Across the Deep South, decades of discriminatory housing policies have profoundly deepened the racial wealth gap and driven high rates of poverty. Today, more people are being forced onto the streets, left with few, if any, options for affordable housing. The Rent Relief Act will provide much-needed support for low-income people and families, many of whom are paying more than half their monthly income on rent. Housing is a human right, and this bill serves as an important step toward making housing security a possibility for all.”
“Single women with children, particularly women of color, are far more likely than single men with children to spend the majority of their income on rent,” said Sarah Hassmer, Director of Housing Justice at the National Women’s Law Center. “The Rent Relief Act would put money back into women’s pockets to help with the rising costs of rent and strengthen women’s economic security. We are proud to support this legislation and will continue working with our partners on the Hill to move this bill, as well as other forms of rental assistance, forward.”
The Rent Relief Act is supported by over 30 housing, ability, and family advocacy groups, including: Black Girls Vote; Children’s HealthWatch; Church World Service; Coalition on Human Needs; Community Change; Housing Action Illinois; Housing California; Justice in Aging; LeadingAge; Liberation in a Generation; Local Initiatives Support Corporation; Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF); National Association for County Community and Economic Development; National Association for Family Child Care; National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders; National Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies; National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development; National Coalition for Homeless Veterans; National Coalition for the Homeless; National Health Care for the Homeless Council; National Homelessness Law Center; National Housing Law Project; National Housing Trust; National Low Income Housing Coalition; National NeighborWorks Association; National Network to End Domestic Violence; National Nurse-Led Care Consortium; National Women's Law Center; NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice; Opportunity Starts at Home Campaign; Poverty & Race Research Action Council (PRRAC); RESULTS; Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund; The Kelsey; and Zero to Three.