AOC & Bowman urge HUD, the Treasury for emergency rent reform

REUTERS/Monica Almeida

Two Bronx congressional delegates are pushing federal agencies to repeal a Trump era rent policy in efforts to aid those on the brink of eviction.

The political duo sent a letter to both the Treasury and Department of Housing and Urban Development on Thursday morning, calling to eradicate guidance from the former administration in regards to the emergency rental assistance program, which has utilized $25 billion to “assist households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

What Bowman and AOC are critical of when it comes to the ERA is what they described in a statement as “burdensome documentation requirements on working-class families, increasing processing times, delaying eligible households access to resources, and preventing states and municipalities from mobilizing desperately needed aid.”

They are calling for existing documentation requirements to be replaced with “the use of self-certification systems” in efforts to expedite the receiving of assets.

“It is estimated that one in five renters are behind on rent with some experts placing back owed rent as high as $70 billion dollars. This housing crisis is disproportionately impacting renters of color, who face higher unemployment rates and have had more difficulty making rent during this pandemic,” AOC and Bowman wrote.

The two also called to attention to some states going as far as requiring households to prove future financial stability in order to receive the necessary funds to combat evictions.

“The existing guidance promulgated by the former administration not only builds on the aforementioned requirements but would make it so that tenants would have to produce an additional burdensome amount of documentation and wait a lengthy period of 21 days in order to receive aid in the event their landlord is uncooperative,” that letter continued.

The congressional representatives also are calling to set aside a majority of these ERA funds to go towards extremely low income households as well as to enact new renter protection policies.

They are specifically advocating for guidance which would prevent landlords from being able to evict tenants without first attempting to obtain rental assistance.