Today, U.S. Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) introduced the Rent Relief Act to help Americans struggling to afford housing each month. The bill would provide a refundable tax credit to renters who paid more than 30 percent of their gross income on rent, including utilities, the previous year. The bill is the House companion to the bill introduced in the Senate by Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA).
“In San Diego, we know that rent and housing costs are rising faster than paychecks. People are rightfully frustrated; the cost of living in San Diego is the fourth highest among major metro regions, and many people have trouble finding housing in the first place. We need to provide short-term relief for renters, while local, state and federal governments work toward long-term solutions to our nation’s housing shortage.
This bill could easily be paid for by scaling back some of the tax cuts that were given to those who don’t need them. This tax credit targets the middle class and attempts to even the playing field for those who need it most. I thank Senator Harris for working on this important legislation and I look forward to continue working with her on solutions to America’s housing crisis,” said Rep. Peters.
Eligibility is determined by annual income compared to annual rent, using the federal government’s already established fair market rent rates. People who live in government-subsidized rental housing could claim the value of one month’s rent as their refundable tax credit.
According to a report released in April, the average rent in San Diego rose 8 percent in a year. This trend continues across the state. California’s Department of Housing and Community Development reports that half of California renters are rent burdened, meaning they pay more than 30 percent of their income on rent. As a co-chair of the New Democrat Coalition Housing Task Force, Rep. Peters joined his colleagues in June to release a preliminary findings report emphasizing the current affordable housing crisis. A full report with policy suggestions will be released later this year.