Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez led members of the New York congressional delegation in calling on House and Senate leadership to include rent and mortgage forgiveness in the next COVID-19 relief package.
As representatives of the hardest hit region in the country, lawmakers have called for the creation of a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) fund that would reimburse landlords for the cost of canceling rent for the duration of the crisis and for an additional six months after the pandemic ends. This fund would be extended to small private landlords, public housing authorities, nonprofit organizations or housing cooperatives.
“Not only does HUD have the capacity to administer a program of this scale, but it would serve as a direct stimulus for the countless families that are facing unprecedented economic hardship,” the members of Congress wrote in a letter to the Congressional leadership. “We need a universal program that will cover all renters without introducing costly bureaucratic measures that will slow the receipt of aid and preserve the already limited stock of affordable housing.”
The rent crisis extends beyond New York. Nationally, nearly half of all renters spend more than a third of their income on rent, while one-quarter of renters spend more than half of their monthly earnings. According to experts, 57 percent of renters cannot afford an unexpected expense of $400 or more.
“We have seen how this crisis has exposed the deeply entrenched inequities in our economic and housing system,” the officials said in the letter. “Therefore, we urge you to include a universal, national rent and mortgage forgiveness fund in the next legislative package–and ensure that as families fight for their health, we protect their human right to stable housing.”