Reps. Gomez, Davis, Peters, & Panetta Introduce Legislation to Help Millions of Struggling Renters
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-IL), Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA), and Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) introduced innovative legislation to help millions of cost-burdened renters at a time when housing costs are skyrocketing as the gap between incomes and housing costs grows. The Rent Relief Act creates a new tax credit for renters that would cover a percentage of the difference between 30 percent of their adjusted gross income and the actual cost of rent and utilities, capping the benefit at 100% of Small Area Fair Market Rent. The bill makes the credit available to most working families by allowing the credit for families earning up to $100,000. Further, it delivers help when needed with monthly payments to pay bills when they are due, building on the successful advanced Child Tax Credit that helped tens of millions escape poverty.
Stable housing is foundational for the social, emotional, and economic well-being of individuals and families. Nationally, 8 million of the lowest-income renters spend at least half of their income on rent, leaving them little remaining to cover other basic needs for food, clothing, and health care. Despite the profound need, only 1 in 4 eligible households receives any help, and some households spend years on waitlists due to inadequate funding. Creating a new renters’ tax credit – along with expanding targeted investments to increase supply – can help end America’s housing crisis.
"Families in Los Angeles and across our country are cutting back on basic needs—such as food and clothing—to afford paying rent and utilities," said Rep. Gomez (CA-34). "As a champion of the Child Tax Credit last year, I’ve seen how a small change in the federal tax code can serve as a lifeline and lift children out of poverty. We’re building on the success of the advanced Child Tax Credit with the Rent Relief Act, which closes the gap between income and rent for low-income households by putting money directly into the pockets of working families."
“Every day thousands of people in Chicago struggle to pay rent,” said Rep. Davis. “The Rent Relief Act will help renters 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 their heads or medicine and food for children. Direct grant assistance and affordable housing are essential, but only help a limited number of families. A renter’s credit could help every eligible taxpayer afford housing and improve their quality of life, working in concert with the other supports to help end America’s housing crisis.”
“With thousands of San Diego renters facing high costs of living and dealing with the lingering consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, the tax credit proposed by the Rent Relief Act provides much-needed relief, opportunity, and stability,” said Rep. Peters. “Creative solutions to help people keep a roof over their heads with dignity are critical as we make long-term progress to fix our national housing shortage. I thank my colleagues for their collaboration on this bill.”
“Rising rents and the high cost of housing make it very difficult for many working families to live on and contribute to the Central Coast. Instead of spending time with their families and in our communities, many parents spend hours behind the wheel driving to and from work,” said Rep. Panetta. “However, if renters can live on the Central Coast, but then are forced to pay a third or more of their income to extreme rents, they not only meet the HUD definition of a 'cost-burdened family,’ the federal government should be stepping up to help those families so that they can work and live in or near the same place. The Rent Relief Act will assist those working families by providing a federal tax credit to help cover the difference between their income levels and rental market prices. Thanks to the leadership of Rep. Danny Davis for working with me on this legislation so that we can help keep working parents in our economy and working families in our community.”
“I commend Representatives Danny K. Davis, Jimmy Gomez, Scott Peters, and Jimmy Panetta for their leadership in introducing this bold, innovative proposal to help millions of the lowest-income and most marginalized renters who face impossible choices between paying rent and meeting their other basic needs, including buying groceries and taking care of their health,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “More than ever, ambitious policies are needed to help bridge the widening gap between incomes and housing costs. A new tax credit for renters, like the one proposed today, has the power to transform lives, providing America’s lowest-income and most marginalized households with the breadth of opportunities that come from having a stable, affordable place to call home.”
“As people struggle to recover from the pandemic and the cost of rent continues to rise, we need significant investments to ensure that families and individuals with the lowest incomes can afford and stay in their homes,” stated Foluke Akanni, Housing Policy Organizer at Housing Action Illinois. “More resources will support cost-burdened renters, prevent homelessness, and help stabilize our communities.”
“Housing costs are high. The cost of inaction is higher. California was burdened with a housing affordability problem before COVID. This pandemic – one that is now entering its third year - has only made matters more untenable. Eviction mitigation to keep people in their homes, and permanent rental assistance for the large number of cost-burdened families, are urgent. For those on the edge of the eviction cliff, federal resources are as indispensable as the frontline champions who ensure they can access the support they so desperately need. The Rent Relief Act prescribes proven policies backed-up by the kind of resources it's going to take to uplift low-income American households struggling to stay afloat – students who struggle to study, workers who struggle to work, parents who struggle to provide, and seniors who struggle to survive.”- Christopher Martin, Policy Director, Housing California
The Rent Relief Act is supported by over two dozen housing, ability, and family advocates, including:
Representatives Davis, Gomez, and Panetta serve on the House Ways and Means Committee with broad jurisdiction over revenue measures. Representative Peters serves as Vice Chair of Policy for the New Democrat Coalition and on the House Energy and Commerce Committee with broad jurisdiction over health and energy policy.