Leaders in Built for Zero communities have been working tirelessly to keep people experiencing homelessness safe from COVID-19. In the last few weeks, they have shared with us their prevailing concern about the pending inflow into homelessness that will be spurred by COVID-19. Emergency rental assistance will be a critical intervention to mitigate an avalanche of evictions and surge in homelessness as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
That’s why Community Solutions is proud to support the Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act proposed by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Congressman Denny Heck (D-WA), and Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA). This bill provides $100 billion in emergency rental assistance to help those who are experiencing homelessness or at-risk of homelessness to help maintain their homes.
Before the coronavirus impacted our daily lives, nearly 1 in 10 households were struggling to pay their rent, utilities, and bills and were considered at-risk of homelessness. With record job losses and financial uncertainty, millions of people could lose their livelihoods and homes. Renters who live in properties with federally-backed mortgages are temporarily protected from evictions. However, as the eviction moratorium expires, these households will need to find a way to pay their rent, along with other accumulating bills, that could leave them vulnerable to homelessness.
The magnitude of the solution must match the magnitude of risk that COVID-19 is presenting to people experiencing homelessness and facing housing insecurity.
The Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act would provide rental assistance for up to 24 months or pay up to 6 months of back rent and late fees for eligible households. This bill would also help low-income and at-risk households cover security deposits and utility deposits and bills.
The funding in the Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act would be distributed to states, tribes, and local governments through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) program. Half of the funds must be allocated to states, tribes, and local governments within 7 days and the remaining funds must be dispersed within 45 days.
This bill has strong support from a broad coalition of housing organizations, industry groups, state and local government officials and agencies, advocacy organizations, and poverty-alleviation groups.
The Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act currently has over 130 co-sponsors. Don’t see your Member of Congress listed? Contact them today! Then tweet at your senators and representatives using #RentReliefNow!