Rep. Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Danny K. Davis (IL-07), and Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52) introduced innovative legislation to make rental housing more affordable for struggling households at a time when renters’ wages have remained stagnant and housing costs have increased rapidly. The Rent Relief Act creates a new tax credit for renters who spend at least 30 percent of their gross income on rent and utilities. It provides the credit to more working families by including those earning up to $100,000, ensures that those with the greatest need see a benefit by making the credit refundable, adjusts the credit to help families more easily afford rent in high-cost areas, assists families living in government-subsidized housing, and allows taxpayers to receive the benefits monthly to better help pay bills when they are due. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) leads the bill in the Senate.
A recent report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition found: “11 million renter households are severely housing cost-burdened, paying more than half of their limited incomes on rent. The vast majority of them have extremely low incomes, and most are seniors, people with disabilities, or people in the low-wage labor force. With more than half of their limited incomes going to keep roofs over their heads, they are forced to make impossible choices between paying rent and buying groceries, seeing a doctor, or saving for college or a rainy day.”
“It’s no secret that urban centers across the nation are facing an unprecedented crisis of skyrocketing rents and shortages in affordable housing,” said Rep. Gomez. “If we’re committed to ensuring every American has a roof over their head, we must leverage every tool available at our disposal — few of which are as powerful as the federal tax code. The tax credit created by the Rent Relief Act will put money directly into the pockets of working families who struggle daily with keeping up with their rent — providing much needed relief for families in California and across the nation.”
“Housing is a human right, and we must act now to end the affordable housing crisis and provide relief to working families who are worried about making each month’s rent,” said Sen. Harris. “Right now, nearly half of Americans couldn’t afford an emergency $400 expense – these families need help now. This is about more than just economics—it’s about the basic security and dignity that every American deserves to have in their own home.”
“Every day thousands of people in Chicago struggle to pay rent,” said Rep. Davis. “The Rent Relief Act will help them 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 head or medicine and food for children.”
“San Diego is America’s fourth most expensive metro region and across the country, rent and housing costs are rising faster than paychecks. We need to provide middle-class renters short-term relief while local, state and federal governments find national solutions,” said Rep. Peters. “This legislation could easily be paid for by scaling back the tax cuts Republicans gave to those who didn’t need them. This partnership between both chambers of Congress will help find solutions to America’s housing crisis—and level the playing field for those who need it the most.”
“I applaud Senator Harris and Congressmembers Danny Davis, Scott Peters, and Jimmy Gomez for their leadership in introducing this innovative, bold proposal, which would help struggling families who today face impossible choices between paying rent and meeting their other basic needs, including putting groceries on the table and taking care of their health,” said Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “A new tax credit for renters – like the one proposed today – could transform lives, providing millions of the lowest income people with the breadth of opportunities that start with an affordable home – opportunities to climb the economic ladder, improve their health, and allow children to do better in school.”